Wildfire destroys 100 hectares

SANKHUWASABHA: A forest fire has been raging in Lebrang Community Forest in Dhupu village development committee in Sankhuwasabha district since Wednesday night.

The fire has already engulfed 100 hectares of the forest land and was yet to be doused.

The rapidly spreading fire has put 100 houses in peril, locals said. Though the forest consumers’ group are making desperate attempts to control the fire, they have not been able to do anything about it.

Local Kusum Magar said the fire was spreading rapidly and would engulf the adjoining forests if it was not controlled in time.

Locals accused the local administration and the police of doing nothing to control the fire even though they had already been informed about it.

Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent of Police Poshraj Pokhrel at Sankhuwasabha District Police Office said that they were never informed about the fire.

Several kinds of plants and wild animals of the community forest were destroyed in the fire, locals said. “The windy and dry condition has made it impossible to douse the fire,” Kumar Shrestha, member of Lebrang Community Forest Consumers’ Committee said, adding they did not know what sparked the fire.

Health, environment casualties

DADELDHURA: District Hospital Dadeldhura has been registering an increase in the number of patients thanks to the atmospheric degradation caused by the fire in over 100 forests in the district. The smoke has rendered visibility poor and has been causing breathing problems in the area.

According to hospital sources, majority of the patients are children and elderly persons complaining of eye ailments and respiratory complications.

The temperature has climbed to 35 degrees Celsius, highest of the year, according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. Villagers attribute the rising mercury to the raging fires.

Dadeldhura supposedly has 321 community forests. “If the fire was not controlled on time, the situation would worsen,” said Rajendra Mishra, chief, Agriculture Development Office.

Timber and logs worth millions of rupees, felled in the jungle, have been lost to the fire.

According to Panchalal Shah, a forest officer, there were reports of fire from all over the district.

Many fires are sparked by farmers who hope to get better fodder once the monsoon starts.