Solan – A severe forest fire that erupted in the Dharampur-Kumarhatti area in the Solan district of Himachal Pradesh has caused significant disruption to train services. On Tuesday morning, the fire reached the railway line near Dharampur, leading to delays for five trains travelling towards Shimla.

The Kalka-Shimla Express, which was scheduled to arrive at Dharampur at 5:20 am, experienced a delay of three and a half hours, departing for Shimla only at 8:52 am. Similarly, the Kalka-Shimla special train was delayed by approximately three hours. The holiday special train also faced a delay, though it was shorter, at about one hour. To ensure passenger safety, these trains were stopped at Taksal, Koti, Dharampur, and Sanwara stations.

Passengers endured significant inconvenience during the delays, but railway authorities made efforts to provide food and water to those stranded. The train services were only resumed after the fire was successfully extinguished from the railway tracks.

The fire, which started late Monday night, has devastated the region’s forest wealth. In the Solan Circle alone, 374.5 hectares of forest land have been destroyed. Other affected areas include 302 hectares in the Bilaspur Circle, 3.5 hectares in Chamba, 120.55 hectares in Dharamshala, 211 hectares in Hamirpur, 331.25 hectares in Mandi, 212.3 hectares in Nahan, 2 hectares in Rampur, 3.5 hectares in Shimla, and a combined 0.166 hectares in WL North and WL South. Overall, forest wealth on 22 hectares of land has been reduced to ashes.

Since April 1, a total of 533 forest fire incidents have been recorded in Himachal Pradesh, burning 4874.9 hectares of forest to ashes. The flames, visible on mountain slopes across the state, highlight the challenges faced by the Forest Department in controlling the spread of fire. Despite ongoing efforts to extinguish the flames, the fire continues to reignite in new locations, underscoring the urgent need for more effective fire management strategies.

At many locations, mountainsides are engulfed in flames, creating a daunting task for firefighting teams. The Forest Department’s efforts to control the fire have been inadequate, as fires are contained in one area only for new outbreaks to be reported elsewhere. This situation highlights the need for enhanced fire management strategies and better resources to prevent such widespread destruction in the future.

The ongoing forest fire in Himachal Pradesh serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact of wildfires on both the environment and public infrastructure. The disruption of train services underscores the broader implications of such natural disasters, affecting transportation and daily life. As the state grapples with these fires, improved fire management and prevention measures are critical to safeguarding its natural resources and ensuring public safety.