Forest Fires Ravage Margalla Hills Amid Heat Wave

At least three people were arrested on suspicion of being involved in arson in the Kalinger Valley of Margalla Hills

Forest Fires Ravage Margalla Hills Amid Heat Wave

Smoke continued to billow Sunday from the Margalla Hills, ravaged by forest fires this week. Meanwhile, the authorities claim to have arrested three people suspected of arson in the forests above the federal capital.

The latest round of fires erupted on Saturday evening. Some of the fires that began earlier in the week were brought under control thanks to the efforts of the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy, which used their helicopters in tandem with civic agencies, including the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) and Islamabad's firefighters, to extinguish the blaze near Sector E-9.

Earlier in the week, fires in Margalla Hills National Park were sparked at two locations, one right in front of Sector E-9, which now houses military installations.

Helicopters from the Sixth Squadron of the Air Force airlifted water to douse the affected area.

On Sunday, NASA's fire map showed intense fire activity across the hills, suggesting that the danger was far from over as a hot and dry spell continued in the federal capital.

Authorities said fresh fires had sparked at three separate locations late on Saturday, including from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa side of the hills.

The capital administration said that as many as three dozen firefighters were busy dousing the flames.

Parts of Pakistan have seen temperatures as high as 52.2 degrees Celsius in the past week. With the country on track to record its hottest summer on record, experts say the intensity and frequency of heatwaves is increasing due to climate change impacts.

Three suspected arsonists arrested

Meanwhile, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has said that they have apprehended three individuals suspected of sparking the inferno in the Kalinger Valley of the Margalla Hills. These individuals were handed over to the police for further investigation and legal proceedings.

A CDA spokesperson claimed that the fire broke out in the Kalingar Valley on Thursday morning and that they had apprehended three individuals from the scene.

CDA's chairman has called for stringent legal measures against those involved in arson activities. Those arrested face charges in 15 separate cases.

In the wake of the fires, CDA has said they have enhanced patrolling in the Margalla Hills to prevent further incidents.