India — A major fire allegedly triggered by miscreants in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve on Saturday has destroyed nearly 40 per cent of the forest cover in Moolehole, Hediyala and Kalkere ranges adjoining the borders between Karnataka and Kerala.
Gutted: The patch of the forest destroyed in a fire at Bandipur. DH PhotoHowever, the forest department personnel have managed to bring the blaze under control after battling it for three days.
Sources said more than 150 forest staffers from Moolehole, Kalkere, Gundre, N Begur, Moleyur and Hediyala were pressed into service along with non-forest personnel to prevent the fire from spreading.
The blaze is said to have been caused by tourists at Moolehole. It is the mischief of some tourists who stopped for a smoke while passing through the stretch, said a source.
According to the source, the forest department personnel are still in the process of making firelines (to prevent the spread of fire by clearing dry plants and litters) in most parts of the forest in Kalkere, while N-Begur here is yet to make a beginning.
The fire would have been devastating had there been no rain. The only relief this year is that the rainfall is good and there is sufficient water in the ponds in the forest. But the climate is very hot and shedding is too much this year. Any fire mishap can cause a lot of damage, said the source.
According to the forest department, though the fire has burnt down huge tree cover in all the three ranges, there has been no loss of wildlife.
B K Singh, principal chief conservator of forests and chief wildlife warden, told Deccan Herald that officials had been directed to submit a report on the fire mishap. He said the department had stepped up vigil in the forest area by appointing more fire watchers.
Patrolling is on and the officers concerned will be held responsible in case of any mishap, he said.
Thousands of trees gutted
Thousands of trees were gutted in a fire at a 5.35-acre plantation at Surugenahalli Kaval village near KG Temple of Gubbi taluk on Monday night.
As many as 2,000 areca trees aged three, 4,000 plantain trees, 100 coconut saplings and pipes of the drip irrigation system were gutted in the blaze. The loss has been put at Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. The Revenue department officials inspected the spot on Tuesday.
Police said miscreants may have set fire to shrubs on the nearby Surugenahalli hillock, which may have spread to the plantation. CS Pura police have registered a case.