India — TIRUMALA: A minor fire sparked on Wednesday night near the Elephant Arch and Narasimha Swamy temple on the ghat road that winds down to Tirupati, spread rapidly to engulf nearly 500 acres of of forest land and resulted in a traffic jam on the road. The fire raged throughout the night and, by Thursday morning, intensified and spread to both sides of the ghat road. The billowing smoke decreased the visibility of motorists and brought the vehicular traffic to halt. Vehicles remained stranded for a distance of about 2 km for nearly an hour in the afternoon. Fifty workers from TTDs forest wing, along with some from the engineering section and government forest departments employees, had been busy since morning to stamp out the fire. Fire-tenders from Tirumala were pressed into service and about six tankers of water were used to douse the forest fire. We were able to control the fire in the forest to the maximum extent by 3 pm, but it flared up again in the evening and is still continuing, said R Nagaraju Naik, station fire officer, Tirumala. TTD chairman K Bapiraju and other officials visited the palce and supervised the fire-fighting operations. Forest fires are common on Tirumala and several acres of forest is lost every year on account of it.