Massive fire continues to spread in KP's Shangla district, destroying forests in its wake

Published December 9, 2017
The fire has badly affected the areas of Bisham city, Kormang Gandorai and Hawalai, says divisional forest officer. —Photo provided by author
The fire has badly affected the areas of Bisham city, Kormang Gandorai and Hawalai, says divisional forest officer. —Photo provided by author

Authorities and rescue workers remained unsuccessful on the third consecutive day in controlling a massive blaze which had first broken out in the forests of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Shangla district on Thursday.

The blaze has since engulfed more than 700 acres of forest land and is quickly spreading towards adjoining areas.

The blaze has engulfed more than 700 acres of forest land.
The blaze has engulfed more than 700 acres of forest land.

Shangla Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Amjad Khan told Dawn.com on Saturday that more than 200 workers of the forest department have been engaged to contain the fire. Locals are also taking part in the rescue work, he said.

He said spreading flames had destroyed precious forests worth millions of rupees over the past three days and “badly hit the areas of Bisham city, Kormang Gandorai and Hawalai".

The DFO claimed that nearly 70 per cent of the affected areas in Shangla district have been cleared, and efforts are underway to put out the fire elsewhere.

Locals have claimed that the forests were set on fire by the land and timber mafia in connivance with the staffers of the departments concerned. Khan said that a high-level inquiry will be conducted to find the reason of its occurrence.

The fire had broken out on Thursday evening in the Gandorai area adjoining the mountains of Bisham city, and the blaze spread rapidly because of heavy winds.

The DFO had earlier said the fire seems to have been "started deliberately", but the department would properly investigate the issue.

Muhammad Sadiq, a local resident, told Dawn.com that a mosque, two water supply stations and some houses were also gutted in the fire. He said forest department personnel are attempting to contain the fire, but it seems out of their control.

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