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    Inferno: Wildfire guts 90 shops in AJK market

    MUZAFFARABAD (AwesomePakistan.Net): Around 90 shops were gutted as a fire engulfed the main market in Leepa Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) early on Monday.

    Located some 82 kilometres north of Muzaffarabad, a fire erupted in the market at around 1am.

    As most structures in the market are made of wood, the fire spread quickly and engulfed the marketplace and nearby houses and vehicles.

    “Due to the heavy snowfall, it was difficult to extinguish the fire,” Jhelum Valley Deputy Commissioner (DC) said Hameed Kiyani while speaking to The Express Tribune on the phone from Hattian Bala.

    Kiyani further added that Leepa Valley had been cut off from the rest of AJK due to recent heavy snowfall on Rashian Top, with the area receiving around six feet of snow this season. The roads could not be used to dispatch rescue workers or fire tenders.

    The official said that they were also having trouble making contact with officials in the valley due to poor phone network in the area and that wireless radio sets were their only form of communication between the district and local administration.

    The fire destroyed 88 shops, six houses, five cars, four motorcycles and a government food depot where around 1,400 bags of wheat and flour, which had been stored for the winter, were burnt to ashes.

    Leepa Valley is famous for its dense forests and natural beauty. Every winter this scenic area receives an average of six-to-eight feet of snow.

    Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2017.

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