On 4th March, Visakhapatnam was witness to a forest fire. It erupted on the slopes of Simhachalam Hill.
The chaotic fire spread slowly, along the entire hill, and affecting the entire forested area on fire. It was not easy for the people around to stop the fire from spreading. Being on the hill slope accessibility became very difficult.
The Hindu reported that it took 300 men, from various departments including Fire, Police and CISF, to work non-stop with water and foam to extinguish the fire. The fire-fighters were supported by about another seven fire engines, drawn from various sources in Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram and NTPC.
The District Fire Officer, BVS Ram Prakash, said, “After fighting it for over 16 hours, we were able to bring it under control. Our men climbed the hill with heavy hoses and we had to spray both water and foam from different locations to douse the fire.”
This was the third major forest fire reported in the city and the second one on the Simhachalam Hill in this year. The major reason quoted for the forest fire by Mr. Prakash is due to human negligence such as throwing of cigarettes and not properly dousing a campfire or cooking fire by the people who came for picnics. Also, in these areas, there are many illegal charcoal manufacturers who burn forest wood to convert them into charcoal.
During this mishap, approximately 30 to 40 acres have been destroyed and affected the biodiversity in the region also.