Bandipur inferno doused in night-long operation

Bandipur inferno doused in night-long operation

February 19, 2017

In what is considered as a major fire accident in the recent days, over 1,500 acres of forests have been reduced to ashes in the inferno that broke out at the Bandipur National Park yesterday. The fire was brought under control at around 8.30 am today and more than 600 persons were part of the operation.

Yesterday, the fire broke out in Kalkare Range of the Tiger Reserve and 28-year-old forest guard Murigeppa Tammangol was charred to death and four other Forest Department staff including a Range Forest Officer sustained burn injuries while they were trying to douse the fire. Murigeppa was stomping out the fire and collapsed due to asphyxiation.

More than 600 Forest Department staff, Soliga tribals appointed on contract basis, officers and staff drawn from Chamarajanagar and Biligiriranga Hills Tiger Reserve battled the fire all night. The operations were led by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests B.G. Hosmath, Bandipur Project Tiger Director T. Hiralal and Assistant Conservators of Forests Maradimane   and Paramesh.

Officials said that they were able to contain the fire by 3.30 am today but left over cinders and strong winds made their task difficult. Finally, the fire was doused at around 8.30 am, they said. “The incident happened at Kebbepurahaadi in the Kalkare Range and it takes 15 to 20 minutes to reach there. We have doused the fire and have even taken measures including creating emergency fire lines,”    officials said.

Department officials suspect that miscreants of Kebbepurahaadi could have set dried elephant dung on fire which starts burning slowly and eventually spread to the forest. “Strong wind proved a major obstacle in preventing the fire from spreading and it engulfed the forest in thick smoke forcing the Maleyur range staff to run for cover. It was suffocating to stand even for a second in that thick smoke of clouds,” the officials said.

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Last Respects In Mysuru: Meanwhile, those who were injured in the fire — RFO Gangadhar, Forest Watchers Manu and Manju — have been shifted to Apollo Hospital, Mysuru, for additional treatment. Nayaka, the other Watcher who was injured is being treated at General Hospital in Saragur in H.D. Kote taluk.

The mortal remains of Murigeppa Tammangol will be shifted to Mysuru this evening and it will be kept at the Forest Department office at Ashokpuram where a ceremonial guard of honour will be held as a mark of respect. The body will be then taken to Vijayapura, Murigeppa’s native, where the last rites will be performed.

Compensation: The Forest Department will pay a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to Murigeppa’s family. Sources said that the officials will soon write to the State Government to treat forest staff who lose their lives on duty on par with the Police department personnel.

“If a Policeman dies on duty, he is considered a martyr and a compensation of Rs. 30 lakh is paid to the family. Even forest department personnel are martyrs as they protect nation’s wealth while on duty. Their families only get Rs. 5 s if they die on duty. This anomaly must be set right,” sources said.  A letter will be sent to the State government to this effect soon by the top officials, sources added.

Also Read: Forest Guard Charred To Death In Fire At Bandipur National Park

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