KHYBER: The incidents of mysterious wildfire in three separate mountainous localities in Landi Kotal during the last few days caused some damage to the indigenous flora besides spreading fear among the local population.
The local forest officials and residents of the areas said that fire broke out at Walikhel mountain then in a far off locality of Prang Darra in Loe Shalman and later near the Suri Pul railways track on Torkham road.
Forest officials said that they were investigating actual reasons of the wildfire. However, they said that it could possibly be the result of carelessness by local women, collecting fodder and firewood in the mountains, young picnickers or an intentional act by some people to destroy the older and dried out wild weeds to pave the way for growing fresh weeds in coming spring.
They also did not rule out the possibility of a sabotage act by some miscreants but insisted that there were only remote chances of such an illegal act.
Falak Naz, a forest officer, said that different types of wild plants including olives, buxifolia and acacia were in abundance in those mountains. “The fire can cause damage to these natural forests, if not checked on time,” he added.
He said that though the fires were extinguished but it needed proper vigilance to prevent occurrence of such incidents in future.
“We are facing a shortage of staff and resources. We have only six staff members to look after a vast area, stretching from Loe Shalman to Bazaar-Zakhakhel, which in some places is very rugged and difficult to access on time,” said Mr Naz.
Sher Wali, a resident of Walikhel, said that sudden eruption of fire frightened them as a number of their women went to nearby hills to fetch firewood for domestic use while they also sent their domestic animals to those areas for grazing.
He demanded of the forest department and local administration to take practical steps to ensure safety of forests and also lives of people, who depended on the mountains and forests as a source of living and earning.