Fire: Five persons taken into custody

Following fire incidents atop Chamundi Hill, five unidentified persons were taken into custody and handed over to the police on Sunday evening.

Tourists travelling in a bus had tipped off Forest department officials atop the Hill, that a group of five persons were probably trying to set fire.

Officials quickly took the five into custody, along with two motorbikes and handed them over to K R Police Station. The group was found smoking atop the Hill. They were eventually released by the police.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, V Karikalan, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said, even though it was not confirmed if the group had stoked fires atop the Hill, they were taken into custody as a precautionary measure. “The fire might have been unintentional, as a cigarette butt or a lit matchstick is enough to start a fire. That is why, the five persons were taken into custody,” he said.

Two fire incidents

With two fire incidents, gutting close to 200 acres of forest atop Chamundi Hill within a span of one month, Karikalan said, two separate FIRs have been filed regarding the incidents.

While the first fire, which gutted about 150 acres of forest, reported in the last week of February, was a deliberate act, officials said, the second incident, reported on Friday, was most likely to be accidental.

Following the fire on Friday, he said, about 40-50 acres of forest, consisting of dry grass was gutted. No large trees were damaged in the fire, he said.

He added that the extent of damage was more at Adichunchanagiri mutt premises, where the fire had probably originated, before spreading to the Hill.

Patrolling intensified

Police personnel, who have intensified patrolling atop Chamundi Hill following forest fire incidents, have levied a fine on 25 persons, who were found smoking atop the Hill.
Unintentional acts, such as discarding cigarette butts atop Hill, is suspected to have stoked the recent fire reported last week.

Police officials said, the persons were fined as per COTPA regulations. K R Police station has deputed 20 personnel for patrolling atop the Hill, along with the help of three vehicles.

Patrolling is being taken up from morning to 12 midnight, forest officials said.

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