Hamirpur — In a heart-wrenching incident, a woman died of suffocation due to the heavy smoke from a raging fire in the Chalada forest of Chakmoh Panchayat, located in the Deotsidh area of Hamirpur district. The deceased, Urmila Devi, 54, was an Anganwadi worker posted in the Manched of Anganwadi Center Circle Chakmoh.

The fire, which broke out in the dense pine forest surrounding the village, caused significant smoke to envelop the area, making it difficult for residents to breathe. According to Urmila Devi’s family, the smoke persisted throughout the day, severely affecting her respiratory function despite her having no prior respiratory ailments.

The distressing sequence of events began in the evening when the heavy smoke forced Urmila and her family to leave their home and seek refuge at the Radhaswami Satsang Bhawan in Chakmoh. Unfortunately, her condition did not improve, and by Wednesday morning, her health had deteriorated further. Her family attempted to take her to Badsar Hospital, but tragically, Urmila Devi passed away en route.

Urmila’s husband, Purushottam, who works as a daily wage labourer, recounted the harrowing experience. “There was thick smoke all around our house from the forest fire. My wife had great difficulty breathing due to the smoke. We were taking her to the hospital, but she died on the way,” he said. Urmila leaves behind her husband and three children, one of whom is married, while two sons remain unmarried.

The fire not only claimed Urmila Devi’s life but also disrupted the lives of other families in the vicinity. The intense smoke forced four families to evacuate their homes and seek shelter in a community building 500 meters away. They returned home late at night once the smoke had subsided.

In addition to the Chalada village, the fire has spread to forests near Hamirpur headquarters, turning vast expanses to ashes and sending smoke into both urban and rural areas. The incident has raised concerns about the preparedness and response to forest fires in the region.