‘Wildfire losses increase 90-fold in Tehran’

July 21, 2019

TEHRAN – Wildfire incurred losses to the capital’s protected areas during the first three months of this year (started on March 21), which was 90 times more than the same period last year, commander of Tehran province environment protection unit has said.

During the aforementioned period, wildfire swept for 25 times in the protected lands of Tehran, turning 314 hectares of the lands into ashes, ISNA quoted Mohammad Reza Khishtandar as saying on Sunday.

This is while, last year only 5 cases of wildfire reported in these areas affecting some 3.5 hectares, he lamented, adding that therefore, losses brought by the massive fires have increased 90-fold this year.

Due to unprecedented rainfall, vegetation growth increased covering vast areas of the country, so, the smallest flame of fire can spread rapidly in areas covered with vegetation, he explained.

Based on the latest data published by National Drought Warning and Monitoring Center affiliated to Iran’s Meteorological Organization, since the current crop year (September 23, 2018), precipitation in the country increased to 312 from 159.3 millimeters in the previous water year, demonstrating a 95.9 percent rise. The amount also raised in comparison to the long-term average of 223.2 mm, amounting to 39.6 percent.

All the wildfires occurred in the capital was due to human-caused ignition, as even a negligently discarded cigarette can lead to wildfire sparks blazing through the rangelands and forests, he noted.

Referring to the lack of fire extinguishing facilities in Tehran department of environment, he said, “This year we have distributed fire extinguishing containers among the forces and rangers, which can carry 20 liters of water, along with a limited number of car accessories for firefighting.”

Unfortunately, protected areas are almost impassable and firefighters cannot enter the areas to put out the fire, so, most of the fire extinguishing operations are done by the rangers, he added.

“Our current facilities are not sufficient for such wildfires, and we need to be equipped more both in terms of rangers and fire extinguishing facilities,” he highlighted.

Ali Abbasnejad, the commander of the forest protection unit of Forests, Range, and Watershed Management Organization said in early July that over 95 percent of wildfires in the country are due to human-caused ignition from unattended campfires, debris, and negligently discarded cigarettes.

During the month of Khordad (May 21-June 21), wildfires increased by 35 percent compared to the same period last year, while human-started wildfires accounted for 95 percent of the whole massive fire, he added.

Also, Jamshid Mohabbat Khani, head of the Department of Environment’s protection unit has said that some 400 hectares of the protected areas turned into ashes due to raging wildfire, since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year, with Tehran setting record highs for wildfire within two first months of this year.

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