Nearly 300 hectares destroyed in blaze

Additional Chief Conservator of Forests (Vigilance) C.S. Yalakki has said that the fire that destroyed nearly 300 hectares of forests in Wayanad district on Sunday was “man-made.”

In a preliminary report to Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan on Monday, the officer said: “the cause of the fire was man-made and the fire which was noticed in the early morning on March 16 became uncontrollable due to the presence of large quantity of flowered, dead and dry bamboos in the forest areas, coupled with heavy winds.”

The Minister had directed the vigilance wing of the Forest Department to institute a detailed inquiry into the fire.

Mr. Yalakki said that of the total area destroyed in the fire, about 200 hectares, was in the Begur forest range in the north Wayanad territorial forest division.

Eighty hectares was in Tholppetty, 10 hectares in Muthanga and another 10 hectares in the Sultan Bathery forest ranges in the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary (WWS).

He said the forest protection staff, with the assistance of the fire force and the district administration, could prevent damage to the life and property of forest dwellers.

The fire was controlled by resorting 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) by Sunday evening itself, he said.

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