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Three held as fire continues to burn Margalla Hills

Romina Alam says PAF, Navy supporting civic agencies along IWMB to extinguish inferno at Margalla Hills

By News Desk

May 31, 2024 05:30 PM


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Three men were arrested while 15 cases had been filed over multiple incidents of fires at the Margalla Hills, where dousing efforts were underway on Friday as well, officials said.

Islamabad Chief Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa — also the Capital Development Authority (CDA) chairman — confirmed the development in a post on X.

“We will ensure all those responsible are held accountable. We are committed to protecting our beautiful hills at any cost,” he asserted.

Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Irfan Nawaz Memon was present to review the fire extinguishing process.

He said precautions have been taken to keep the fire confined to the residential area as firefighters and helicopters are taking part in the fire extinguishing process.

He said the fire was also spreading due to the intensity of heat and the speed of the wind.

He also confirmed the arrests made in relation to the fire incidents at Margalla Hills and said the arrested persons are being interrogated.

Memon said cases have been registered against 15 people who started the fire two days ago and more arrests will be made in the next few days regarding the fire on the hills.

He also requested the citizens to identify the involved persons.

Earlier today, the CDA had said more than 80 firefighters were engaged in efforts to control a fire at the renowned hills. The operation was “focused on the centre” after the blaze had been controlled from the sides, it specified in a post on X.

According to CDA spokesperson Kamran Aslam, additional teams had departed to join the extinguishing efforts.

Environment director Asif Majeed was monitoring the operation himself on the directives of CDA Chairman Mohammad Ali Randhawa, Aslam said, adding that the relevant assistant commissioner was also present on the site.

High-speed winds and hot weather posed difficulties in putting out the blaze, the CDA spokesperson highlighted. He asserted that all resources were being used to control the fire.

Spread over 12,605 hectares, Margalla Hills face a number of fire incidents every year, with 15 such cases occurring only on Tuesday, which were then doused after an almost eight-hour-long operation.

Suspecting human involvement, the interior minister then ordered an inquiry, the registration of a first information report (FIR) and the formation of a committee over the fire incidents.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Coordinator on Climate Change, Romina Khurshid Alam said the helicopters of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Pakistan Navy team were supporting the civic agencies along with the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) to extinguish the glaring inferno at Margalla Hills National Park near sector E-9.

She said that there was a fire at two places on Margalla Hills whereas it was of high intensity spiking up infront of E-9 Hills, a news release said. The Chairman NDMA was contacted by the PM’s Coordinator whereas a Pakistan Air Force helicopter was dispatched to the affected area to put out the fire, she said.

She added that the team of Pakistan Navy was also participating in the effort to control the fire alongside the team of Islamabad Municipal Corporation involved in the effort to smoother the fire.

The Sixth Aviation Squadron was also requested to send a helicopter, she said, adding, “The Ministry of Climate Change is in touch with all relevant agencies. I am monitoring the situation myself,” Romina Khurshid Alam said.

A second helicopter was also dispatched by Pakistan Air Force to the affected area, she added.

“I am very grateful to NDMA and Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy,” the PM’s Coordinator said.


News Desk


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