Monster fire swallowing Wokha’s southern range
DIMAPUR, APRIL 1
A fast spreading big fire is sweeping across the lush southern forest ranges of Wokha district, from the forests of Yikhum village adjoining the Doyang Hydro Electric project areas all the way to the fringes of Wokha town itself. The district administration, forest department, emergency and fire services and volunteers from a number of villages dotting the mountain range are currently engaged in hectic efforts to contain the fighting, officials told Eastern Mirror Tuesday.
Forest officials and villagers have confirmed that the reach of the fire is so extensive that it has now reached Vankhosung, a small Christian mission settlement just on the edge of Wokha town since the evening of March 30, Sunday. Fortunately, except for the irreparable loss on biodiversity, there is no, report of human casualties at the time of filing this report.
Officials are befuddled that it took just about two days for the inferno in Yikhum village areas to spread all the way to Vankhosung. Doyang is about 30 kilometers away from Wokha headquarters.
The fire is said to have started in a hill near Yikhim village on Sunday evening and by the following day it had spread all the way northward towards Rhyphim, and all the way to Ningying village, towards Mokokchung, before spreading to even the fringes of Elumyo village, also on the fringes of Wokha.
District Forest officer Zuthunglo Patton said strong pre-monsoon winds aided the fire in spreading fast. She said the district administration and forest officials, forest and fire services have been fighting the fire the last two days from spreading. Patton added, “villagers , fire and forest personnel have been without adequate rest and sleep”
She hoped that the current efforts to contain the fire, and the strong winds ebbing, would stop the fire from spreading further across the adjoining mountain ranges. She expressed dismay that the condition of roads has also been an obstacle preventing emergency services from aiding mobility, and offering access.
However environmental activist Steve Odyuo is not so optimistic. He told this daily that the fire was “spreading all over”. He expressed concern with the fire “racing towards Vankhosung. According to him, Yikhum village is surrounded by fire from three directions, while Riphyim and Nungning villages’ forests are also in danger. Humtsoe and Elumyo villages, also on the fringes of Wokha town are likely to be effected if not controlled.
“The cliffs near Yutiru tchukha in Wokha village area blazing as we came back.” Odyuo said.
“The villagers are on full alert and fire fighting. It is going to be a long night for some as the fire shows no sign of abating with the strong wind in all its might,” he said.
The DFO said that the affected mountain range is elephant country and a herd of elephants were also caught in the surge, causing concern initially for villagers. However, except for three, the herd has fled toward Nungying village. She expressed sadness at the irreparable damage on biodiversity, particularly wildlife, vegetation and food crops.
Villages in and around the ranges have been informed to stay alert.