Four of a family killed as wildfire erupts in Shangla

Published June 4, 2022
Rescue personnel carry out efforts to extinguish the wildfire in the remote area of Ali Jaan Kaparai in Shangla district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday. — Forest department photo provided by author
Rescue personnel carry out efforts to extinguish the wildfire in the remote area of Ali Jaan Kaparai in Shangla district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday. — Forest department photo provided by author

Four of a family were killed as a result of a wildfire in the remote area of Ali Jaan Kaparai in Shangla district's Chakesar tehsil, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Saturday, officials said.

According to Assistant Sub-Inspector Masood Khan, the deceased include three women and a boy.

Forestry department footage of the blaze shared with Dawn.com shows grass and trees ablaze, with volunteers trying to prevent it from spreading.

District disaster management authority spokesperson Inamullah Khan told Dawn.com that a Rescue 1122 team and revenue department staff had reached the area to douse the fire while more teams were on the way.

"Forest, revenue and rescue staff are making efforts to extinguish the fire," he said.

The spokesperson said the fire had erupted in some bushes and spread to engulf a larger area.

He added that the bodies of the victims were taken to the basic health unit in Chakesar's Gunangar area.

Separately, Shangla Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ziaur Rehman told Dawn.com that he had directed relevant staff, including Rescue 1122 and forest department staff, to reach the affected area and begin relief efforts.

The DC said they had been instructed to control the fire as soon as possible.

However, he added: "The area where the wildfire has erupted is located at a high altitude and is not easily accessible as there is no [proper] route. People have to walk to reach there and that hinders rescue work and controlling the fire."

A rescue worker treats another's leg, who was injured while trying to douse the fires.—Photo provided by author
A rescue worker treats another's leg, who was injured while trying to douse the fires.—Photo provided by author

Sub-divisional forest officer in Shangla Zahid Hussain also confirmed to Dawn.com that his department's teams were engaged in controlling the fire. He added that the cause of the fire would be ascertained after "an assessment".

In recent days, wildfires have been reported in various areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, damaging trees over several acres of land.

Read: Five of the family suffer burns in Batrasi forest fire

Hussain said fires had been extinguished in Titwalan, Shang, and Batkot areas recently.

He added that “in most cases, local people set the bushes on fire in this season".

The fire, he said, then "goes out of control and engulfs the [entire] forest and even populated areas".

The official said legal action would be taken against those setting fires in forests in Shangla.

Rescue officials walk along a path on their way to contain a forest fire on Saturday.—Photo provided by author
Rescue officials walk along a path on their way to contain a forest fire on Saturday.—Photo provided by author

For his part, the Shangla DC said forests had been destroyed as a result of wildfires in the various areas of the district, and that he had directed the forest department to carry out an "assessment and take strict legal action against culprits setting bushes on fire, which destroys forests on a large scale and causes the loss of human life".

Last month, a massive fire decimated a pine nut forest in Balochistan's Sherani district in the Koh-i-Sulaiman range, leaving three people dead.

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