It's a double whammy for forests in state

Wildfire erupts in Mandya; Bandipur flames resurface

It's a double whammy for forests in state

Another major wildfire has erupted in the state. Over 100 acres of vegetation was destroyed in the fire in the Karighatta forest in Srirangapatna taluk of Mandya district on Friday even as wildfire resurfaced in the Bandipur National Park.

Hundreds of eucalyptus trees were destroyed in the Karighatta wildfire as firefighters couldn’t reach the forest on time. The fire also destroyed two huts adjoining the forest and damaged foodgrain, poultry, a bicycle, a television set and clothes. Forest officials tried to contain the fire on one side but strong winds quickly spread it to the other. A group of young men picnicking in the forest helped forest officials put out the fire. People living in the nearby village of Chinnayakanahalli complained that firefighters did not arrive even two hours after being informed.

Meanwhile, flames have resurfaced in Bandipur, flying in the face of forest officials’ claims that the blaze had been fully contained two days ago. The wildfire is said to have spread across Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills, Maddur and N Begur, destroyed hundreds of acres of vegetation. Over 150 people, including forest officials and local residents, are on their toes again to put out the flames.

When contacted, T Heeralal, the director of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, confirmed that the wildfire had been spotted in Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills and said six fire tenders were at work to douse the flames. The Karadikal Hill is a grassland and dried grass has caught fire, he said and suspected that it was an act of arson.

As if the major wildfires were not enough, eucalyptus trees on a 30-acre grove and a sericulture unit were destroyed in a blazing fire at Anedoddi village near Koppa in Maddur taluk of Mandya district on Friday.

Bags of paddy and sericulture equipment are also reported to have been gutted in the grove owned by Kalaiah, Umesh, Jayaramu and other residents of the village. The loss is estimated at Rs 1 lakh.

Firefighters and villagers struggled to douse the fire. No casuality has been reported. The Besagarahalli police have registered a case. Villagers have demanded suitable compensation for the loss.

The wildfire that had destroyed more than 200 acres of vegetation in the Biligiri Ranganatha Temple (BRT) tiger reserve on Thursday has been put out, according to the Forest Department.

Forest officials said that the fire — which started at seven places in Chikkaiahanagiri and spread up to Jodigere — was an act of arson.  Strong winds had quickly spread the fire. Officials from K Gudi and Byluru forest ranges struggled for almost 24 hours before the blaze could be contained by 4 am on Friday.

Officials have put the BRT Reserve, the Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the Male Mahadeshwara Wildlife Sanctuary on high alert. Villages on the fringes of the forests are also being monitored.

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