Massive Forest Fires In 4 Districts Of Jammu And Kashmir

Forest fires have engulfed large tracts in Bandipore, Kupwara, Ganderbal and Anantnag districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mehbooba Mufti, tweeted a short while ago that her government departments are on high alert.

Thousands of alpine trees have been burnt during last two days and efforts are on to control the fire, say forest department officials.

Local residents say, unusually high temperatures at this time of the year in the Valley and a dry spell of winter have led to the devastating forest fires.

The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of heat wave like conditions in Jammu and Kashmir, where the maximum temperatures are over 5 degrees Centigrade above the normal, this time of the year.

Earlier in January, panic gripped the villagers along the Line of Control, in Rajouri and Poonch, when forest fires triggered landmine blasts according to Army officials. Sources in the army said it was an attempt by Pakistani troops to neutralise mines. The fire had started in the forests of Pakistan occupied Kashmir, along the LoC and then it spread to the forests in the Indian side.

Incidents of forest fires have gone up drastically over the last few years on the hill slopes of Kashmir. The forest department officials say mostly human error and dry conditions are the causes.
In 2017, forest fires damaged vast areas in the Pir Panjal range. As many as 71 forest fires were reported in the summer of 2016, in both north and south Kashmir.

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