Pradeep Pattanayak

A team of firefighters is camping in Rokata village on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar, where thatched houses and haystacks are reportedly catching fire spontaneously for the last three days, leaving the villagers in a state of panic and apprehension. 

On being informed that fire is breaking out frequently, a team of firefighters reached the village only to find the claims of the villagers true. 
Thatched houses and haystacks catching fire on their own have left even the firefighters in a dilemma. 

“Day before yesterday, we received a phone call that a haystack was on fire in Rokata village. We immediately reached the village and doused the flame. Yesterday, we again received a call from the same village informing us that another haystack was on fire. We reached the village and as we tamed the flames and were writing a report, another haystack was on fire spontaneously. While we were dousing the flames, yet another incident was reported,” said Rabindra Kumar Parida, a firefighter. 

These days, the villagers are in a fix, not able to understand what is going on. Questions over the causes of these mishaps & such occurrences within a limited area are troubling the villagers.

“At first, I was also thinking that some miscreants were behind this. But I was proved wrong when I saw for myself a fireball was burning inside the house today morning. There were cries everywhere. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t douse the core of the fireball,” said a Rokata villager. 

“When I was going to cook food in the morning, a round-shaped fireball came from nowhere. We ran out of the house in fear. The villagers doused the flame,” said an eyewitness. 

“Such fire accidents are occurring over the last three days. A fire engine has since been parked in our village. We have stored water and stocked up motors and generators to tackle the situation. We are assisting the fire personnel in fighting the fire,” said Barimund Sarpanch's husband, Bijay Kumar Mallik. 

When asked about the possible reasons, Mallik expressed helplessness. “We aren’t able to figure out why such incidents are occurring. It is still a mystery as to where the fire comes from. It is now believed to be the wrath of the goddess.”

Meanwhile, some villagers have even started worshipping and performing rituals to appease Maa Hingula, the village deity.

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