Aizawl: More than 450 fire incidents have been reported in various parts of Mizoram claiming at least seven lives and injuring 11 others since 2019, statistics available with the fire and emergency services of the state’s home department said.

According to the statistics, at least 459 fire incidents were reported from January, 2019 to March, 2021 and 113 of them were house fires while the rest 346 were forest fires.

More than 26.43 crore properties were damaged in the flame and over Rs 26.77 crore worth of properties have been salvaged during the given period, the data revealed.

With a 54-year-old man, who was charred to death on April 15 this year, at least seven people have been killed by fire since 2019, the data said. Up to 128 fire incidents, including 82 forest fire, were reported in 2019 and 168, including 131 were forest fire were reported in 2020, it said.

During the current year till March, at least 163 fire incidents, including 133 forest fires, have occurred in various parts of the state. Three people died of fire in 2019 while 4 others were killed during this year till 15 April. More than 30 people have been killed in various fire incidents since 2012, according to officials.

Fire and emergency services director C Lalthanmawia said that the number of forest fires is comparatively higher this year against last year.

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While forest fires occurred on 50 occasions in three months between January and March in 2020, the number has already reached 133 during the same period this year, he said. He suspects the practice of slash and burn (jhum) cultivation as the main cause of forest fires in the state.

At present, there are 14 fire stations across the state and the government is making efforts to set up new fire stations in three new districts — Hnahthial, Saitual and Khawzawl, Lalthanmawia said.

In the meantime, several parts of Mizoram are currently engulfed by forest fires.

According to officials, forest fires were reported in at least five districts- Lunglei, Lawngtlai, Hnahthial and Siaha, all in the southern part of the state and in Mizoram’s central Serchhip district, which prompted the state government to seek help from the Indian Air Force (AIF).

No casualty and major property loss have been reported, they said. Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts are the worst affected.

Lunglei district additional deputy commissioner M Misael said the wildfire which broke out on Saturday morning at Saisih area on the outskirts of Lunglei has spread to more than eight localities within the town.

Although the flame is still raging in some surrounding forest areas, settlement areas are now secured. He said that the AIF has deployed one chopper to douse the fires at the request of chief minister Zoramthanga.

After dousing the fire at Zotlang area, the chopper is expected to fly to Serchhip district, which is also facing massive inferno, he said.

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An official of the fire and emergency services said that at least 12 houses in Bungtlang South village in Lawngtlai district were gutted by fire which spread from the forest on Sunday.

Champhai district deputy commissioner Maria CT Zuali also told EastMojo that that forest fires have been happening in more than seven places in Champhai district, the first being from April 21.

However, the fires are now under control, she said.

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