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LAHORE: A series of deadly wildfires had raged over 100 locations across the country from March until May this year due to unprecedented heatwave, said sources in the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD).

They said the heatwave spell over the past four months had also led to high temperature on the sea surface which has attracted most of the rains during the first four spells of the ongoing monsoon systems. Accordingly, the city of Karachi besides the interior Sindh and Balochistan has witnessed some worst spells of rains.

According to the sources, the phenomenon of heatwave was translated into extreme temperatures in plain areas as well while the moisture level remained subdued; eventually failed to attract monsoon systems as such. At one of time, they said, the moisture level had dropped to 10 percent in the city of Lahore.

When asked about the factors behind deadly wildfires in forests, they said, lightening has been a major cause of fire eruption in forests, followed by sparking of fire due to gusty winds and prolonged dry weather.

They said deadly wildfires is a fresh element and climate change is considered a major driver of this spike as soaring temperatures and dry weather render the ground biomass highly flammable. It was rare in Pakistan earlier, they added.

Also, sourced from the PMD said the incidents of fire eruption in industrial units and commercial buildings was also on the rise due to the heatwave in plain areas. A few years back, they said, a similar situation was generated in the city of Karachi, which led to many deaths once the sea breeze was at halt for a while.

The sources said the government has decided to add the phenomenon of heatwave and fire eruption into the category of disaster. It may be noted that smog and floods have already been part of it and the National Disaster Management Authority is in the process of revising their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with the elements of heatwave and deadly wildfires.

They said similar incidents of heatwave and fire were also reported in the neighbouring country, India. Meanwhile, the environment protection department has decided to carry out smog audit of factories ahead of the upcoming winter season. The decision has been taken to overcome rising trend of smog soon temperatures fell during the season. As per the directive, all types of factories would be examined for smog audit throughout the province and a report would be submitted to the Chief Minister Punjab for further action. Those not following the SOPs would be closed down, they added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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