Srinagar district has recorded highest number of fire incidents in Kashmir last year— claiming six lives and damaging property worth 22 crores.
According to data of Directorate of Fire and Emergency Services, the summer capital witnessed 446 fire incidents— highest in comparison with other districts. As per the data, the fire occurrence caused death of six people which is second highest number of casualties across the districts in Kashmir. 20 deaths were reported in Ganderbal district in fire incidents during the same period.
In these fire incidents, property worth Rs 22.45 crore was destroyed in Srinagar. The data further adds that the property involved in fire incidents was pegged at Rs 332.62 crore of which property of Rs 310.18 crore was saved by the Fire and Emergency Service teams.
The data states that 25 people were injured in the fire incidents across the Srinagar. The blaze incidents consumed 28 vehicles, 39 electric transformers and seven masjids. The fire incidents also damaged 345 structures, 67 shops and 16 shopping complexes.
Pertinently, 10 structures were gutted at Waniyar area of Safa Kadal here on January 30. In another fire incident, eight houses were gutted at Zaina Kadal area of Shaher-e-Khaas on February 4. On February 12, a two storeyed residential housed was gutted in a fire incident at Tengpora Bypass. Darul Uloom Ilahiya at Shah Faisal Colony Illahibagh here was gutted in a fire incident on February 22.
The data reveals that there were also nine false calls reported out of total 467 calls seeking help from the department. While the increasing fire incidents are being reported in Srinagar, the officials in Fire and Emergency Services blame the congestion and faulty building structures as the major reason for rise in fire incidents in the summer capital city.
"The damage in the Srinagar particularly in Old City is higher in comparison to other places as the houses are located closely. In times of fire, there is possibility that fire can engulf surrounding structures too. Adding to it, faulty electric supply adds to the fire incidents resulting in loss of live and property and congested lanes and by-lanes creating bottlenecks in immediate rescue operations" they added.
Pertinently, Srinagar witnesses 15 to 20 fire incidents on an average per day. The data reveals that in 2015, about 44 lives across Kashmir were consumed in fire incidents with damage to the property estimated at Rs 60 crore.
While the Valley particularly Srinagar is witnessing increase in fire incidents, sources reveal that the Fire and Emergency Services is facing dearth of around 1500 employees—hampering the relief and rescue operations in the summer capital.
The official data compiled by Fire and Emergency Services states that the highest number of casualties from flare incidents was recorded in Ganderbal at 20 deaths. It was followed by the Srinagar, Budgam and Kupwara district with six deaths each.
Director General Fire and Emergency Services, R. S Sodhi acknowledged surge in fire incidents. "Yesterday, there were 21 fire incidents in 24 hours which shows how difficult it for our team to work tirelessly. But despite all odds our team is doing their best to rescue lives and reduce damage during fire incidents," Sodhi added.