A forest guard was killed and four other foresters sustained burns injuries while dousing a fire that broke out at Bandipur National Park in Karnataka. The blaze also reduced around 750 acres of forest to ashes, reported The New Indian Express.
The 28-year-old forest guard, Murigeppa Tammangol, died in the Kalkare Range of the tiger reserve. Those injured have been identified as Range Forest Officer Gangadhar, forest watchers Manu, Manju and Nayaka. They have all been hospitalised.
The fire, which broke out on Saturday, was brought under control after a 24-hour-long operation. About 600 people, including Soliga tribals, officers and staff from Chamarajanagar and Biligiriranga Hills Tiger Reserve, and six water tankers were pressed into service. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests BG Hosmath said that they were able to bring the flames under control by 3.30 am, but leftover cinders and strong winds hampered the operation. The fire was doused around 8.30 am.
Forest officials suspect it to was the handiwork of vandals from the Kebbepura haadi area. “They might have set dried elephant dung on fire, which starts burning slowly and eventually spread to the forest,” they added.
In another similar incident, a forest fire destroyed more than 200 acres of vegetation and 4,000 saplings in Ambligolla and Choradi State forest limits on the outskirts of Shettyhalli Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka on Saturday. Officials suspect that the fire broke out because of friction between dry bamboo flowers and sticks. However, Deputy Conservator of Forests Mohan Gangolli told The Hindu, “The possibility of intentionally torching the forest for encroachment cannot be ruled out. The department will conduct a probe.” He added that stray incidents of fire were also reported from near Belandur and Choradi on Sunday.
Meanwhile, another forest fire broke out in Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, bordering Karnataka, on Sunday night. Two forest officials were injured. Officials suspect local residents were involved.