Forest fires engulf large area near Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine

Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu, May 17 : Forest fires engulfed large areas in the Trikuta Hills of Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, near the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine, even as authorities used all possible means to douse the flames, officials said on Tuesday.

Large areas of the forest in Trikuta Hills have been burning in wild fires raging there for the last two days even as teams of the forest and fire services departments, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers, officials of Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and police are engaged in fighting them, officials told IANS.

Officials, however, confirmed the fires are away from the shrine, but as a precautionary measure, all the helicopters used to ferry pilgrims from Katra town to the uphill cave shrine have been shifted to the campus of the Mata Vaishno Devi University away from the forest area.

“Round the clock efforts are on to bring the forest fires in the Trikuta Hills under control”, said a senior official of the provincial administration.

Forest fires are often triggered by carelessness of trekkers and by those who venture into forests to collect firewood etc.

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