Weeds, trees gutted in forest fire.
Byline: Afzal Ansari
KASUR -- Weeds over 40 acre in Chhanga Manga forest were gutted on the night between Wednesday and Thursday in Block No 1.
Many trees also were damaged in the fire that a team of Rescue 1122 put out after about five hours.
The cause of the fire could not be ascertained. Officials of the forest department and the forest protection committee comprising local volunteers (meant for maintenance of the first man-made forest) alleged mischief of the farmers who had been recently evacuated from the forest.
District Forest Officer Imran Sattar said weeds over about 40 acre were gutted. He said some farmers had recently occupied a chunk of forest land for cattle grazing and they were expelled.
He alleged that these farmers had put the weeds on fire out of grudge and to give the impression that the department had set ablaze the forest after illegal cutting of trees.
SDO Forest Agha Hassan said there was no loss of life. He said the habitat of brown and black partridge had been damaged.
Forest Protection Committee members including Waqas Khan, Muhammad Arshad, Sarfraz Zaki and Salman said weed spread over acres had been gutted. They alleged whenever there was an action against the illegal occupants, a fire incident occurred just as was the case in 2007 and 2012.
They demanded that the government evacuate 400 or so families who had been illegally living in the forest workers' colonies for decades and misusing firewood and other resources.
The forest department had submitted an application to the Chhanga Manga police station to probe the matter.
In another incident, a truck caught fire near Kamalpura village in the Saddar police jurisdiction. Driver Muhammad Sabir and conductor Saleem Ahmed jumped out of the truck to save their lives.
INJURED: Two labourers were injured when a shoe-making factory on Peerowala Road caught fire owing to a short-circuit.
A Rescue 1122 team had to fight hard to put out the fire as the chemicals used in the factory intensified it. Ramzan and Latif were injured and taken to the DHQ hospital where they were stated to be stable.