50 acres burnt; blaze might have begun due to a carelessly thrown bidi, say police, fire officials
Biswajit Choudhury was sitting at the dhaba on Sunday afternoon, when he saw smoke billowing from the jungles near the Brahmaputra Hostel at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
After five years in the campus, he had got used to such fires in summer, he said. But this one came perilously close to the residential area. It burnt the practice nets that encircled the ground.
Then began the dousing efforts. The Fire department was notified and the students, armed with hoses and water from hostel bathrooms, set to the task. It was around 2.30 pm.
Fanned by the wind, the fire spread rapidly, and engulfed as much as 50 acres, according to eyewitnesses.
At least five fire tenders were rushed to the campus, where several locations — including the famous Parthasarthy Rock area — were already ablaze.
After four hours of firefighting, the blaze was brought under control but not till it had charred a large chunk of the jungle. The trees looked stripped of green and a stench of burnt wood was all over.
The smoke was so dense the students said they could not see anything. “It was like the fog in the winter,” said Choudhury, a PhD student, who too helped douse the fire so it did not reach the hostels. Never did a jungle fire in JNU come so close, he said.
“From the windows now you can see up to the malls on the other side of the road,” he said. “What I don’t understand is how the fire spread to such faraway locations. It was also reported near the Chandrabaga Hostel.”
According to Shambhu, a guard, the fire even spread to the other side of the road near the Purvanchal Residence.
At the dhaba near the Brahmaputra Hostel, Promod, who works at the eatery, said the fire spread because of the dry leaves. When it reached the fringes of the jungle, it became weak as the ground was muddy, he said.
According to a police officer at the North Vasant Kunj police station, it began with a carelessly thrown bidi and spread due to the wind. In the evening, near the Brahmaputra Hostel, the university authorities parked water tankers in anticipation of emergency. The fire fighters complained that they faced a shortage of water. “It was a minor fire