Fire in Nagarahole forest takes heavy toll

Fire in Nagarahole forest takes heavy toll

The -fire in the Anechowkur range of the Nagarahole national park has left a trail of destruction over an area of 400 square metres.

Bamboo and other plant species, from the Gonikoppa State Highway to the Mattigodu elephant camp, have perished in the blaze.

Devaraj, the range forest officer of Anechowkur, said a spark in the Mattigodu forest are could be the trigger. He said the incident had occurred despite several measures being put in place to contain forest blazes ahead of summer.

Devaraj said the fire was brought under control by more than 70 people, including daily wage workers, the members of the public and the forest personnel. Officials said the fire had not caused any harm to elephants in the forest. The jumbos had been let into the forest for grazing, Devaraj added.

Miscreants are suspected tto have lit the fire on the roadside along the bus route from Anechowkur to Gonikoppa.

Probable cause

Sparks from there could have led to the fire spreading fast due to the bamboo growth in a radius of a minimum of 100 metres of the forest, it is learnt.

The range forest officer said that a fire line had been constructed for a length of 230 km, to prevent it from spreading.

Hundreds of acres of forest were gutted in Mattigodu of the Nagarahole wildlife division and the blaze, locals say, is unprecedented.

The winds are only intensifying the fire. The fire spread in hundreds of acres within a couple of hours, just 300 metres from the Mattigodu elephant camp.

The water in the fire extinguisher vehicle was exhausted, but the blaze could not be brought under control.

A replacement vehicle could be brought from Periyapatna only at 5 pm. Hundreds of species of flora and fauna have been consumed by the blaze in the Anechowkur forest between Hunsur and Gonikoppa. Power lines have also been snapped.

Deputy Conservator of Forests Dr Malathipriya, who is camping in the forest, said severe action will be taken against those responsible for the fire.

CBI probe likely

The cases pertaining to the forest fires will be referred to the CBI, said R Gokul, Conservator of Forests, and Director, Nagarahole Tiger Reserve.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, Gokul said the fires were man-made and intentional. The officer said thousands of hectares of forest land in Anechowkur had been damaged and that a case will be filed with the local police on Friday.

“This happens every year, just when the financial year is coming to an end. The fire was not at all in a tribal area – it was in the middle of the highway. The fire has been properly planned and it has been synchronised with the one in Bandipur,” he said.

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