A massive wildfire engulfed and spread out to the outskirts of Lunglei town in Mizoram that is reported to have started at around 7 am on April 24. Lunglei is the capital town of Lunglei District in the southern part of Mizoram.
The fire is mainly concentrated in uninhabited forest areas surrounding the town and has spread to more than 10 village council areas within the town. In some localities such as Zotlang, Serkawn, Chanmari, the fire reached some buildings but could be contained and doused before it caused any major loss to property. No loss of life has yet been reported due to the wildfire.
Lunglei authorities, firefighters and volunteers have been fighting to put the fire out, some even suffering serious burn injuries. Though hundreds of volunteers have stepped up in different locations across Lunglei town, the raging fire has not been contained even after a non-stop effort of more than 32 hours.
Apart from local volunteers, the Assam Rifles and Border Security Force (BSF) have also stepped out with their men and equipment, and are actively participating in the firefighting efforts.
The Fire & Emergency Services Department in Lunglei District has only 13 staff and 2 fire tender vehicles at their disposal. The State Government has detailed 2 more fire tender vehicles and 7 additional men to assist the team at Lunglei.
On the requisition of the government of Mizoram, the Indian Air Force is deploying two Mi-17V5 helicopters, equipped with Bambi Bucket, to douse the major fire in Lunglei district and adjoining areas.
Dry vegetation due to drought conditions, coupled with strong winds, has made the mission extremely challenging. And the unfriendly terrain of the area also poses a very serious risk and hindrance for the firefighters. Private water tankers have also voluntarily deployed their vehicles for firefighting.
In the wake of the present crisis in Lunglei, the Deputy Commissioner & Chairman, District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Shri Kulothungan A convened an emergency meeting with key stakeholders at his office chamber this afternoon. Detailed plan of action was charted out, with the Committee deciding on seeking the help of the Indian Air Force in containing the fire. State Government authorities have been contacted in this regard. Several Ministers from Aizawl are expected to visit Lunglei to take stock of the crisis.
According to Lunglei Additional DC Pu M Misael, the concerned authorities are presently investigating who or what caused the fire. There are certain reasons to believe that the fire is manmade, and a meeting will be convened with affected Village Councils and Young Mizo Association (YMA) leaders of the areas to ascertain the exact cause, he added.