Forest / Wild Fire in India on February 20 2017 03:55 AM (UTC).
A day after fire broke out in the Kalkere range of Bandipur Tiger Reserve (BTR) killing a forest guard, fire engulfed the Gundre range on Sunday morning. The two wildfires have been captured by Nasa's satellites. A senior Forest department official said, "Nasa satellites capture images of fire, when it is big and spreads more than 50 acres and of high density. These two incidents have brought a negative image to the BTR, which is home to the largest tiger and elephant population." Fire at Kalkere was first reported at around 10 am on Saturday, but came under control only at 4 am on Sunday. Around 9 am, staff was pressed into action at the Gundre range to douse the fire, which came under control only towards evening. The initial assesment by the department indicated that the fire had destroyed over 100 acres. While forest guard Murigeppa Tammangol (32) died, three foresters sustained serious injuries at Kalkere. "A detailed investigation is being carried out and the exact area lost in flames will be known within eight days. It is a very tragic incident and, for the first time a person has died and three have been injured," B G Hosmath, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), told DH. T Heerala, BTR Director, said, "We are certain that the fire has been created by miscreants. I assure that none will be spared. This is the first time the BTR has seen flames in the last one-and-a-half years. An FIR has been registered. The police and the forest department are investigating the matter. We can give Rs 10 lakh as compensation to Tammangol's family. The PCCF has assured the agitated people on Sunday that he will speak to the government to increase the compensation." Meanwhile, there were reports that uncontrolled growth of lantana and rubbing of dry bamboo caused the fire. Some officials also suspect that the decaying elephant dung piles could have caused the fire. There has been lobbying in and around the BTR for the rights over forest produce. This has led to a tussle among locals who could have set the forest ablaze in a fit of rage, some opine. Even after fire occurred in two ranges of the BTR, the Forest department did not stop its safari. The department brought in over 100 additional forest staff from Nagarahole and BRT to douse the flames. But it did not close the safari and divert the safari staff towards controlling fire. This move has raised questions about the seriousness of the forest staff. Forest Minister B?Ramanath Rai told DH from Mangaluru that he was reaching Bengaluru on Monday to take stock of the situation. "I will discuss the matter with Hosmath who is already in the BRT. It is a very serious issue. I will ensure that justice will be done and in future such incidents will not happen," he said.