A major forest fire broke out in Trikuta hills, the abode of Mata Vaishno Devi, in Katra town of Reasi district following which the Air Force today pressed into service two MI-17 helicopters to douse the blaze.
“A massive forest fire broke out at several places in the forests of Katra town, adjoining Banganga area, the base camp of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine yesterday”, SSP Reasi Sujit Kumar said.
He said following the fire the helicopters used for ferrying the pilgrims to the cave shrine had to be shifted to safer places.
“Yesterday, the yatra was affected as the chopper service remained suspended, today also it remained suspended for some time but now the fire at several places has been contained so the service was re-started”, Kumar said.
Following the massive fire that spread to several areas, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board requested the Air Force to help douse the fire.
“At around 6:30 AM today, Air Force Station Udhampur received a distress call from Shrine Board requesting help to douse the fire. Two MI-17 helicopters were pressed into service to lift water from Reasi Dam to be sprinkled on areas engulfed by the forest fire”, a defence spokesman said.
He said the two MI-17 helicopters have been continuously making sorties and lifting water to douse the fire.
“With the help of the Air Force, we have been able to extinguish the fire to a great extent. Barring few far off areas, the fire has been controlled in most of the areas on Trikuta hills”, the SSP said.
He said no loss of life or property was reported due to the forest fire.