BANDIPUR FOREST FIRE: 8 days on, inferno spreads to Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills
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BANDIPUR FOREST FIRE: 8 days on, inferno spreads to Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills

February 25, 2017

Battling forest fires that have resurfaced at the Bandipur National Park, the Forest Department officials are at their wits end to contain the inferno that began on Feb. 18. Though they have claimed that the forest fire has been contained at Kalkare, Hediyala, Maleyur and Omkara, Kundkere, Gundre and N. Begur ranges, the latest wildfire has spread across Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills and Maddur destroying hundreds of acres of vegetation.

According to latest reports from Bandipur, the fire at Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills was under control. “Heavy mist in the forest aided the department personnel who are extinguishing the fire and we are hopeful of containing it by today evening if winds do not hamper our efforts,” said forest officials.

The 874.78 sq. km Bandipur National Park has been ravaged by a series of fire incidents, suspected by the forest officials as man-made, and almost 350 of the 370 water bodies in the national park are completely dry.

Bananas and Watermelons that were donated by volunteers.

According to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) B.G. Hosmath, more than 200 people including forest department staff and local residents are trying to extinguish the fire. “Though hundreds of people were involved in putting out the wildfire, providing food and water is a difficult task. The unprecedented heat this year, coupled with dry vegetation, is taking a severe toll on the staff who are dehydrated.  Added to this is that water has become scarce and we are supplying water from bore-wells to the affected areas,” he said.  

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Bandipur Project Tiger Director T. Heeralal said that they had noticed the fire at Himavad Gopalaswamy Hills yesterday and 6 fire tenders were at work to douse the flames. The Karadikal Hill is grassland and dried grass has caught fire. He added that some miscreants have set fire to the forests.

“In the last couple of days, over 750 to 900 acres of forests have been reduced to ashes. Our priority is to bring the fire under control and damages can be assessed later,” he said.

Meanwhile, department officials have urged people to donate food items for its staff, local residents and other volunteers engaged in putting out the fire. People can donate food items that have longer shelf-life such as bread, buns, biscuits, fruits and other snacks along with bottled water. These items can be deposited at the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens in Mysuru. A truck will leave the Zoo every day for Bandipur to transport the food items. The Zoo has so far transported 200 kg of bananas and 500 kg of watermelons, besides 25 water cans to help the fire-fighters.

“Bandipur fire this year is turning out to be complex, day by day. Providing food and drinking water to the front line staff at the site will be of great help and those intending to support fire-fighting efforts may contact the Forest Department,” Hosmath said.

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