A massive fire engulfed Lunglei, the capital town of Lunglei District in southern Mizoram following an unprecedented forest fire that is reported to have started at around 7 am on April 24 on the outskirts of the town.
In a press release from Mizoram DIPR, it has been mentioned that the fire is mainly concentrated in uninhabited forest areas surrounding the town, and has spread to more than 10 village council areas within the town. In some localities such as Zotlang, Serkawn, Chanmari, the fire reached some buildings, but could be contained and doused before it caused any major loss to property. No loss of human life has yet been reported due to the wildfire.
Mizoram CM Zoramthanga stated that numerous wildfires in different parts of Mizoram razed several settlements across the states. No casualties reported as of the moment.
Though hundreds of volunteers have stepped up in different locations across Lunglei town, the raging fire has not been contained even after a non-stop effort of more than 32 hours. Dry vegetation due to drought conditions, coupled with strong winds, has made the mission extremely challenging, and the unfriendly terrain of the area also poses a very serious risk and hindrance for the firefighters. Apart from local volunteers, the Assam Rifles and Border Security Force (BSF) have also stepped out with their men and equipments, and are actively participating in the firefighting efforts. Private water tankers have also voluntarily deployed their vehicles for firefighting, the release said.
Meanwhile, the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has sought the help of the Indian Air Force in containing the fire.
The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained and the concerned authorities are presently investigating who or what caused the fire. There are certain reasons to believe that the fire is manmade, said Lunglei Additional DC Pu M Misael.
A meeting was convened with affected Village Councils and Young Mizo Association (YMA) leaders of the areas to ascertain the exact cause, he added.
However,, it is suspected that Jhum cultivation or shifting cultivation may have been the reason behind the forest fire.
Chief Minister Zoramthanga has spoken to the Indian Air Force authorities, and has explained the extreme urgency of the situation to them. At the CM’s instructions, Chief Secretary of Mizoram Lalnunmawia Chuaungo and other concerned officials have further taken up the matter with the IAF authorities.
On the requisition of the Mizoram Government, the Indian Air Force is deploying two Mi-17V5 helicopters, equipped with Bambi Bucket, to douse the major fire in Lunglei district and adjoining areas.
The wildfire has been raging for more than 32 hours now, Mizoram which is already battling with the second wave of the deadly Covid-19 has been struck with another calamity posing threat to life and property. On the other hand the state faces an acute shortage of water during the pre-monsoon period, which is adding to the woes of the state.