A huge fire broke out in the forest area of the Sariska Tiger Reserve in the Rajasthan’s Alwar district, ANI reported on Tuesday. Indian Air Force helicopters were deployed to spray water on the areas that have caught fire.
The fire that started on Sunday has now spread over 10 sq km, said Roop Narayan Meena, field director at Sariska Tiger Project, according to The Indian Express.
“An 8-10 sq km area in the Akbarpur range has been affected,” Meena added.
Strong winds triggered the blaze that has now reached the hills, the official informed.
Sudarshan Sharma, divisional forest officer of Alwar, said that he was informed about the fire two days ago, ANI reported.
“We took the help of locals to control the fire,” Sharma said. “We are trying to restrict the fire so that it doesn’t engulf the valley. Damage will be ascertained once the fire is doused.”
The fire department in Jaipur was also approached for help, ANI reported.
“As the fire was massive, the efforts of locals weren’t enough,” Sunita Pankaj, additional district magistrate of Alwar, told ANI. “So, we intimated the fire department in Jaipur. Areas having high tiger and rural people’s population are our priority.”
The Sariska reserve has 27 tigers, an unidentified senior forest official told The Indian Express.
“Around nine tigers including four adult tigers and tigress and five cubs/sub-adults are known to move around in the area in Akbarpur where the fire has broken out,” the unidentified officer said.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the fire was a matter of concern.
“The huge ongoing fire in the Sariska reserve, which is a success story in the revival of its tiger population, is a matter of great concern,” he said. “The Alwar district administration has rightly sent an SOS to the Indian Air Force. Hope it is brought under control very soon.”