Updated: February 12, 2021 12:45:43 am
LARGE stretches of dry vegetation on the hills near Katraj tunnel on the outskirts of Pune city were gutted by the fire that started on Wednesday night. The blaze, which mainly affected privately owned land tracts on slopes, was brought under control after nightlong efforts from forest department personnel and firefighters.
According to officials from the Pune Forest Department and those from Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) fire brigade, the blaze started in the stretch of hilly area between Katraj tunnel and Shindewadi sometime around 8.30 pm and was brought under control around 3 am on Thursday.
No casualties or property losses were reported as the fire did not spread to any human settlement. Officials said the cause of fire could not be ascertained yet. According to PMRDA fire officials, the fire has caused damage over tracts that are around 2.5 km long and around four square km in area.
After receiving multiple calls from local residents and people passing on the adjacent Pune-Bangalore highway, teams from the forest department and PMRDA fire brigade rushed to the spot. Range Forest Officer for the region Mukesh Sanas said, “The stretches where the fire had spread are privately owned tracts of slopes on these hills. While there are no big trees, the stretch is covered with smaller trees and grass, which have been gutted in the fire. Our teams from Pune reached the spot, so did the teams from Bhor forest division from the other side. The spread of fire was brought under control manually by beating and we made sure it did not spread into the adjacent forest area. We had already drawn firelines in the past to ensure that such fires do not spread a lot. However, loss of wildlife such as birds and small animals can not be avoided in such cases.”
There were around 30 forest department personnel who were part of the effort. Sightings of barking deer, wild boar and peacock have been reported in the past in this area.
PMRDA’s Fire station officer Sujit Patil said, “After climbing on foot to the slopes that had caught fire, our teams made use of tools called fire beaters and green branches of trees to extinguish the fire. The fire had spread into three pockets — one towards Katraj tunnel, another towards Shindewadi, and the third on the slope in the backside of Shindewadi. By the time we reached, the forest department teams had already started extinguishing the fire and later we joined them. The spreading fires were brought under control around 3 am this morning.”
PMRDA fire chief, Devendra Potphode said, “The preliminary estimate is that dry vegetation and small trees in a region of two-and-a-half km in length and four square km of area have been gutted. While the exact cause of the fire could not be immediately determined, such fires are mostly caused by human errors or negligence, like someone throwing a cigarette butt…”
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