Close to 315 hectares of forests has been destroyed in fires in the past three days in the district

Fires were reported in the Tholpetty range of forests in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary and the Periya range of forests in the North Wayanad Forest Division in the district on Tuesday.

Preliminary estimates of the Forest Department suggest that close to 35 acres of forests was destroyed in the two incidents.

In the Tholpetty range, the fire was noticed at Naikatty around 9.a.m. It was doused by noon. It was reported that wild animals, including elephants, sustained injuries in the fire.

Another fire was noticed at Thalappuzha in the Periya forest range at midnight on Monday, and it was doused around 3 a.m. on Tuesday.

315 hectares destroyed

Close to 315 hectares of forests has been destroyed in fires in the past three days in the district, a department source said.

Natural forest fires were rare this time of the year, the source said, adding that often they were man-made.

High temperatures owing to the dearth of summer rain, heavy wind, and dry bamboo groves and withered undergrowth caused the fire to spread rapidly.

It was reported that close to 450 hectares of bamboo groves inside the sanctuary had dried up after massive blooming.

Many a time, Forest Department employees resorted to ‘counter-fire’ (setting fire to the forests that lie along a control line to burn out the fuel supply to the spreading forest fires), but this was difficult owing to the presence of the dry bamboo groves, the source said.

Lack of funds for taking up fire protection measures, absence of modern fire extinguishers, and shortage of staff added to the forest managers’ difficulties.

Though the sanctuary officials had submitted a proposal to the National Wildlife Board to remove 50,000 tonnes of dry bamboo from the sanctuary last year, permission was denied, the source said.

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