India — ERODE: A major fire that broke out and spread quickly inside the Anthiyur forest range on Saturday evening was put down by fire fighters and local residents by Sunday morning. The hostile terrain of the region had made it hard for fire fighters to reach the spot. The reason for the outbreak has not been identified.
K Anandan, forest ranger, Anthiyur, said they had to walk about 8 kilometres to reach the spot. The fire spread over a hilly near Athani. “A batch of 15 people who were both locals and fire fighters had tried to reach the spot, but they could not reach the spot and were held up. So, another batch of 15 members went to the spot by 5am on Sunday,” he said.
Due to the terrain water could not be taken. The foresters made gaps in the area to stop the spread of fire. They then threw mud and used the available materials to douse the fire. The fire had consumed more than two kilometres of forest, he said.
Forest officials have already started taking steps to control the outbreak of wild fire in the area. Conservator of forest, Erode, A Venkatesh said they have been spreading awareness about the outbreak of fires and have groups who provide them with vital information. “We provide regular training programmes to those living in settlements inside the forests,” he said.
“Self-help groups have been trained to provide intelligence and information. They alert us if there is any suspicious activity,” he said. In case they notice the outbreak of fire or suspicious people, they pass on the information to the officials. Moreover, they also caution people from leaving traces of materials which can cause fires. In case of any mishap, we take their help to douse the fire, he said.
Fire lines too have been marked in the area. Fire lines are spaces between areas especially on pathways which will prevent the spread of forest fire. The spaces when made in correct proportions help prevent fire and avert major mishaps, he said.
Though it is only January and the winter chill is yet to withdraw, the failure of monsoon has turned much of the forest into a dry patch, which catches fire fast.