A major fire broke out in the forest area of the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka on Saturday, destroying hundreds of acres of foliage, The News Minute reported. The blaze, which had started on Thursday, fanned across Kundakere, Bandipur and Gopalaswamy Betta ranges of the park.
“We are working around the clock to stop the fire, but the efforts have been affected by strong winds,” said an unidentified forest official. “We are yet to ascertain the damage to the wildlife in the tiger reserve.”
Videos posted on social media showed vehicles stranded at the side of the road as a huge blaze burns in the background, with black smoke filling the air. The fire reportedly also reached the core areas of the reserve.
Tourists visiting Bandipur were stopped at a checkpost at the entrance to the reserve. Earlier, another minor fire reported in the BR Hills range of the reserve burnt down around 30 to 50 acres of forest area. It was extinguished on Friday night.
Chamarajanagar district fire officer KP Naveen Kumar told The Times Of India that fire services were trying to put out a blaze near the Government Medical College at Yedabetta attached to the tiger reserve. “We have deployed three fire engines at the place after we received a fire call at around 10.30 am,” he said. “We are trying our best to douse the fire and prevent it from spreading to another place.”
Wildlife activist Shantha Murthy said he was helping forest officials in putting out the fire, which was first noticed around 3.30 am.
Environmentalist Joseph Hoover said the tourism area of the reserve had been destroyed and the fire had spread to its border with Kerala’s Wayanad wildlife sanctuary. “We needed to have had enough rapid action vehicles and fire engines to contain fires,” he said. “We need to recheck our preparedness to handle fires like this since these fires occur almost annually.”