A helicopter douses flames on the Margalla Hills in Islamabad on Monday. The other picture shows vegetation on fire. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
A helicopter douses flames on the Margalla Hills in Islamabad on Monday. The other picture shows vegetation on fire. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: Two major fires broke out on Margalla Hills on Monday, which were extinguished after seven hours by firefighters with the support of helicopters.

Spreading over 12,605 hectares, the Margalla Hills National Park witnesses scores of fires every year that damage the forests and create air pollution.

Two major fires broke out at around 1pm in Saidpur range in two different locations – Chiran Di Gali and in Saidpur area. Besides, local firefighters, hired by Capital Development Authority (CDA) for fire season, three helicopters of defence authorities and Prime Minister Office, on the request of National Disaster Management (NDMA) took part in the operation. Water was lifted from Rawal Dam in buckets.

“Besides support of choppers, over 200 firefighters took part in the operation,” said director environment Asif Majeed, who looks after the Margalla range.

He said apparently both fire were seasonal fires, adding that, “we just completed the operation and extinguished the fires”.

However, some officials from the environment directorate said frequent fire incidents on the hills could be deliberate attempts by local people. The officials said during the last 10 years, over 4,000 fire incidents on the city’s greenbelts, including the Margalla Hills, have taken place.

Sources said around 60 acre area of the hills was damaged because of these two major fires.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also directed the authorities concerned to access the damage caused by the fire and take measures for restoration. He also directed that injured animals should be provided treatment.

Additionally, he instructed veterinary doctors to provide medical assistance to the injured wildlife.

Deputy Director General Environment Irfan Niazi said besides support of helicopters locals firefighters did great work to put out the fire.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by PM Office stated that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appreciated the swift response and efforts of all departments concerned in controlling the fire.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2024

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