India — A widespread forest fire, which started late on Saturday night inside and along the fringes of the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary, has destroyed large tracts of grasslands and engulfed several trees inside the core area of the forest. The fire had also spread to the elephant corridor of the sanctuary. There are reports of at least three separate herds of elephants fleeing to the villages in Chowka block, close to the Chandil area, on the outskirts of Jamshedpur, scared by the fire. Forest officials said elephants destroyed three houses in one of the villages and trampled a woman to death. Four of her family members have been injured seriously. However, all the elephants returned to the sanctuary this morning when the fire was brought under control. There has been no damage to the flora and fauna of the sanctuary and all elephants are safe, said Mr Siddhartha Tripathi, DFO, Jamshedpur. A thorough inspection is on to assess the damage. Mr Tripathi said because of their timely intervention and the district administration’s help, they could control the fire. Villagers who live along the borders of the sanctuary also came forward to fight the fire. The fire broke out in the Balugama area and spread to Chowka and Kandra blocks, also affecting the forests close to Dimna Lake and Nimdih areas. The East Singbhum deputy commissioner’s office swung into action along with forest department officials and gram panchayat members to control the fire. However, strong winds on Saturday and Sunday nights posed a hindrance.