50 houses at Malana in HP reduced to ashes

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Shimla, Jan 5 (UNI) As many as 50 houses were gutted in a major fire at Malana village in Himachal Pradesh's Kullu district early today.

Kullu district SP G D Bhargava said barring a few incidents of injuries to the people, no loss of life had been reported so far in the matter.

''Though the village falls within an extreme interior location and is not easily approachable, we have sent a police party to take stock of the situation and the exact cause of fire could be known when it returns,'' Mr Bhargava said.

''As in winters most of the houses in the region remain packed with fire wood and cattle fodder, the fire is suspected to have been sparked from the live stub, that eventually might have led the amber to flare up to a greater extent,'' the SP said.

Kullu district Deputy Commissioner Abhishek Jain said more than 300 people, including police and other officials, were engaged in dousing the inferno, but the scarcity of water and the extreme interior location of the village were posing obstruction in controlling it.

Without fire engines, the administration was forced to turn to local fire fighting means, which did not help contain the devastating fire, otherwise the loss could have been far less, Mr Jain added.

''As per the latest information, the fire is still flaring the administration has already released primary relief to fire victims,'' he said.

UNI XC AS PS KD HT1522

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