A spate of fires in the Valley ravaged hundreds of acres of forest cover during the past few months, underscoring the need for effective firefighting measures that have remained traditional so far.
Besides thousands of trees, a large number of saplings planted by the forest department perished in these fires.
In almost all the fires, the forest staff could do little except resort to traditional methods of dousing fires, wearing no safety gear and invariably at risk to their lives. Many sustained injuries.
When asked about the details of the fire incidents, injuries, the majority of the officials Greater Kashmir spoke to said they had no details available at present.
Conservator of forest Javed Ahmed Andrabi said the department is “always alert to tackle such incidents anywhere”.
"Fire tenders and other firefighting equipment can’t reach the places where the fires occur. It takes some time to bring the fire under control manually,” Andrabi said.
"Dousing a forest fire is very risky. Such operations have proven dangerous for our employees many a time. We ensure field staff has safety gear on while controlling a fire,” he said.
The traditional dousing method consists of clearing a swath of forest of trees and dead leaves and vegetation from the floor to stop an advancing fire.
Chief conservator of forests Nissar Ahmed said the department is contemplating introducing modern techniques and equipment to fight forest fires and to ensure safety of employees.