Forest fire at Bandipur causes huge losses

About 20 to 25 acres of forest land has been burnt down and it is suspected that some miscreants might have started the fire.

Widespread losses have been reported in a massive fire that engulfed the forest near Mahadeshwara temple at Tavarekere in Bandipur Forest Range.

The incident has taken place a day after Mahashshivarathri, where it is customary for people in adjoining villages to visit the temple.This has made the forest authorities suspect that the fire was man-made.

Meanwhile, the forest officials term it as conspiracy by few people. The route leading to the temple was close to the elephant camp and the area around was full of bamboos. Someone from the crowd may have done it, they suspect. However, the blaze was brought under control and it is suspected that about 20 to 25 acres of forest land has been burnt.

Although forest fire is rare during other seasons, during summer, it is common due to high temperature turns into a headache for forest department staff. For natural forest fires, the forest officers took all the measures by making fire line that avoid breakouts and recruitment of more staff during summer. However, man-made forest fire has been a major problem to them. The entire vegetation including bamboo clumps was destroyed in a major fire that took place in the year 2014 which burnt around 1600 acres of forest land in Bandipur and Nagarahole Forest Reserves. Since then, a series of similar fire breakouts have occured and the forest department is struggling to cope with such incidents. However, they say there was not much dry vegetation for the fire to spread this time, despite the damage.

“There were as many as seven incidents of forest fire in Nagarahole in last 48 hours, within a close proximity. Even if fire breaks out at one place, there is a pattern for it to spread. We have noticed fire engulfing the forest at three different places and it is surely the work of miscreants,” said Kantharaju, DCF of Nagarahole Forest Reserve.

How to handle Forest Fire
Forest Department staff will burn vegetation along the safari routes which is the traditional method of containing forest fires from spreading in case of a conflagration. Another practice followed by the forest staff is Fire lines- The part of a control line that is scrapped or dug to mineral soil, also known as fire trail. More generally working a fire is called being on the fire line where the entire boundary is burnt and a space is created among grass. The Forest Department officials usually apply this to avoid fire as it is expected during the summer season. Fire fighters will be on work during summer exclusively to handle fire break outs.

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