The wildfire in the southern hills of Mizoram raged on for more than 48 hours during which the fire spread to nearby villages and non- settlement areas. Serkawn, Bazar Veng, Chanmari and Zotlang are the worst affected localities in Lunglei. The fire is said to have started between 6-7 AM on 24 April, 2021 from the forest area in Saisih, located in the outskirts of Lunglei. Though there are no reported human casualty, several firefighters had to deal with burns and bruises. Public buildings and residential homes were evacuated as the fire continued to grow in intensity aided by the strong winds and dry weather. Vast tracts of forest land and vegetation have been damaged by the fire, leaving many wild animals dead and homeless in the region.
The state firemen were actively assisted by the Assam Rifles and Border Security Force personnels, NGOs and hundreds of local volunteers battled tirelessly to subdue the fire which started on the morning of 24 April, 2021. On the request of the State government of Mizoram the Indian Air Force deployed two Mi-17V5 helicopters to assist the state in controlling the wildfire. The two IAF helicopters carrying 3500 ltrs of Bambi bucket doused the major affected areas in Lunglei in the afternoon of 26 April, 2021. With help from the IAF, the fire was successfully subdued before it moved on to other areas. The Chief minister, Zoramthanga thanked the Central government for the valuable assistance provided and tweeted a video of the IAF chopper carrying the bambi buckets with the caption: “Thank you so much Prime Minister Shir @narendamodi ji. I thank the Central Government for its prompt assurance and swift action. The people of #Mizoram says ‘Kan lawm e.”
Meanwhile, massive forest fires broke out in three other districts- Serchhip, Hnahthial and Lawngtlai which caused havoc and panic within the areas on the night of 24 April 2021. More than 14 houses were destroyed by the fire in Bungtlang South village, Lawngtlai district. North Vanlaiphai, Chhiahtlang, Darzo are among the affected areas in these districts. Fortunately, the fire in these districts were doused by the cooperative efforts of the Fire Depratment, the localites and NGOs.
The majority of the population in Mizoram are engaged in jhumming cultivation and this requires the slash and burn process which causes forest fire every year during February and March. However, this year witnessed a change in pattern due to the long absence of rainfall and the prolonged dry weather. Though the forest fires have died down for the moment, officials and experts are staying alert and vigilant as there is still a high possibility of another outbreak on account of the dry vegetation and hot weather.