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Forest Fire in Shimla: 10,000 Hectares Damaged in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla is besieged by forest fires, with over 100 blazes in two weeks damaging 10,000 hectares. Fires in Tara Devi and Tutikandi have posed significant challenges. The city faces deteriorated air quality and disrupted water supplies

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Forest Fire in Shimla: 10,000 Hectares Damaged in Himachal Pradesh

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Shimla, the "Queen of Mountains," is besieged by forest fires. Over a dozen new fires break out daily, covering the area in thick smoke.

In the past two weeks, over 100 forest fires near Shimla have caused significant wildlife and forest loss. One of the most severe blazes has been in the Tara Devi forests for the past three days, posing a challenge for the forest department.

The Shimla Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Aneesh Sharma, said, "We controlled the upper forest fire, but some areas are inaccessible."

On Tuesday, a massive blaze erupted in Tutikandi, endangering the Balika Ashram and a wildlife rescue centre. Firefighters and forest staff battled for over four hours to control the flames.

At the time of the incident, 20 girls were at the Balika Ashram and were moved to Mashobra as a precaution. The Thursday forest fires affected Panthaghatti, Sankat Mochan temple, and Bharari.

Highest forest fire incidents in country

According to official data, Himachal Pradesh has seen 991 forest fires since summer began, with two in Hamirpur districts on Tuesday, making it the state with the highest number of forest fires this season.

In Shimla's Tutikandi area, a massive fire broke out around 11:30 am, spreading throughout the forest and reaching a government building. No casualties reported. In Hamirpur, the drinking water supply was disrupted as the main pump house was damaged due to a forest fire in the Hiranagar area.

The fire department's data shows 991 forest fire incidents in Himachal Pradesh this summer, with frequent fires in Shimla, Solan, Bilaspur, Mandi, and Kangra districts.

Rajiv Kumar, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, attributed the high number of forest fires to rising temperatures from heat waves and man-made activities like throwing burning cigarettes and lighting fires.

Himachal Pradesh has 2,026 forest beats, with 339 classified as "very sensitive," 667 as "sensitive," and 1,020 as less prone to forest fires.

Residents struggle to save homes

Sanjeev Kumar, a resident affected by the fire in the Kelti area near Shimla, shared that he saved his house with local help, but it was difficult.

According to Forest Survey of India data, the highest number of fires this season occurred in Himachal Pradesh, with 1,172 fires. So far, 10,000 hectares of land have been damaged.

The incidents of fire in Shimla City caused a significant deterioration in air quality. On Thursday, the city's Air Quality Index (AQI) level was recorded at 122, significantly higher than the average AQI level of 40 to 60 typically observed in Shimla.