MURREE: A fire erupted in one of the picturesque hills of Murree destroying flora and fauna and lush green forestation.

The fire erupted in the forest of Musari and Phapreer area on Sunday and continued till the filing of this report on Monday night.

The flames have spread over acres of land and thick flames could be seen miles away from the expressway and the Murree city.

The hills of Murree are known for their lush green beauty with tall cheer trees. The fire erupted in the Jungle No 43 and 46.

On Sunday, Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif also took notice of the fire and subsequently the deputy commissioner of Rawalpindi visited the area to supervise firefighting operations.

Though fires in forests could be a natural phenomenon, it is alleged the timber mafia and some locals were involved in most of the fire incidents in Murree.

An official of the town administration said he had no idea who was behind the fire. He, however, said normally timber mafia ignited fires to hide evidence of tree cutting while in some cases locals did the same to get fresh grass for their animals.

When contacted, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Junaid Mumtaz Khan said efforts were being made to control the fire. He said the fire had been brought under control on Sunday night but it spread on Monday due to the gusty winds.

Asked about the firefighting operations, he said forest guards and some helpers were participating in the operation which was being carried out though traditional method of beating the fire with bushes. He said firefighting vehicles could not reach the affected area of the forest as there was no road network.

“We are hopeful that our team will put out the fire soon,” he said and added that he along with the assistant commissioner of Murree and other senior officers were present in the area and supervising the firefighting operation.

Published in Dawn,May 3rd, 2022

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