Wildfire in Chikkamagaluru destroys teak plantation

Even before the Forest Department could cope with back-to-back wildfires in Bandipur and BRT tiger reserves, another fire in Madhuguni forest in the Balehonnur range of Chikkamagaluru district has made officials edgier.

The wildfire was caused by an electrical spark in the 11 kV power line between Balehonnur and NR Pura on Monday, according to an initial investigation by local forest officials. Dry trees and leaves quickly spread the fire which went on to gut a 10-hectare teak plantation in the forest patch in just two hours. “We got to know about the fire at 11.30 am and brought it under control by 1.30 pm,” Basavarajaiah, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Koppa territorial forest division, told DH. This is the first time that a deciduous forest has caught fire, the forest official exclaimed. Drought and hot weather have made forests vulnerable to fires.

Linemen inspected the power line after the fire was doused and rectified the error. The Forest Department is considering filing a complaint against the linemen concerned, another forest official said. Besides, it has urged the Energy Department to conduct a thorough inspection of all paths of electrical cables and ensure that such incidents do not recur.

BRT, Bandipur wildfires

Meanwhile, the major wildfires that engulfed Bandipur and BRT tiger reserves are under control, B G Hosmath, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), said, adding that the damage had been “very high”.

“A thorough assessment of the areas is being done. But the destruction has been very high because of strong winds and drought,” he said. He indicated that the wildfires were acts of arson and that some forest staffers were involved.

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