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Three forest fires around Darjeeling
- Eleven incidents reported in April, the highest in a decade

Darjeeling, April 25: Three forest fires were reported from near Darjeeling yesterday, taking the number of such blaze since April 1 to 11.

Although forest fires are common in the hills during summers, sources said so many incidents in such a short span of time have not been recorded in over a decade.

Yesterday evening, a fire broke out below Shruberry Nightangle Park at a lope between Raj Bhawan and Richmond Hill, where the chief minister stays while in Darjeeling. Richmond Hill is about 100m from the district magistrate’s home.

“The fire seems to have started in the evening. It was going out of control and we called the army around 8pm,” said Darjeeling DM Puneet Yadav.

The fire was brought under control around midnight.

Kamal Pradhan, officer in-charge of Darjeeling fire station, said another fire was reported around 10.40pm near Dali. “It was controlled well past midnight,” he said.

Another fire broke out at Ambootia tea garden in Kurseong subdivision yesterday. “It was put out in two-three hours. There was no loss of life or property,” said Anil Bansal, director (plantations), Ambootia Tea Group. “The fire destroyed around 5,000sqft of forest in the garden,” said an official of Kurseong fire station.

Sources at the fire station said nine forest fires had been reported in Kurseong subdivision in April, from places like Tindharia and Sepoydhura, and two in Darjeeling.

Bansal said in the last week, fire broke out in two other gardens of the group, Sepoydhura and Norbung. “Sepoydhura reported two forest fires,” he said. The blaze destroyed 6,000 bushes in the two estates. “Only rains can save us.”

Although Darjeeling hills have been witnessing sporadic rains, the last was on Saturday, the hills are mostly dry India Meteorology Department sources said Darjeeling recorded 22.4 degrees Celsius and 12.4 degrees Celsius as the maximum and minimum temperature between 8.30am yesterday and 8.30am today.

Malda blaze

Sixteen huts were gutted in a fire in Dakshin Chandipur village in Malda’s Habibpur on Friday morning.

Police sources said around 11am, the fire started from the kitchen in a hut. Two fire engines from Malda doused the flames. Eleven families have been affected. “I have given instructions to provide tarpaulin and dry food to them,” said MD Sharad Dwivedi.