Thanks to swift exercise by forest personnel
A major forest fire that broke out in the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) on Saturday night was extinguished by Sunday morning thanks to a swift fire-fighting exercise by the forest personnel.
The fire, which was noticed near Chinna Mayilaar on Saturday night, spread rapidly with a gusty wind assisting the flames to destroy dry bushes grown on three hectares at Mudanthurai area and another five hectares in Papanasam area.
Deputy Director, Mundanthurai Range (in charge), KMTR, K. Sekar, who led the fire fighting exercise, said that the blaze that could have spread rapidly from Chinna Mayilaar area towards Kuthiraivetti and Upper Gothaiyaar areas owing to dry condition prevailing in the sanctuary and the wind lashing the forest at high velocity was extinguished before causing any damage to the woods, thanks to the efforts of 150-odd forest personnel, Kaani tribe people and volunteers.
Though the fire has been completely put out, Mr. Sekar has stationed three teams of forest personnel in the affected area to ensure that there is no such recurrence on Sunday night.
“Since most of the affected areas are inaccessible and relatively steep, we’ve stationed our people there. If they happen to notice any embers in the night, they’ll start their operation immediately. Hence, we’ve positioned our personnel in the places close to the affected areas,” said Mr. Sekar.
After the fire was extinguished, an intermittent drizzle drenched the area for about 15 minutes around 5 p.m. that brought a sigh of relief among the forest personnel who have started an enquiry to find out the cause of the fire.
The forest personnel, in a bid to comply the Supreme Court order that banned tourism activities inside the tiger reserves across the country, had stopped entry of pilgrims going to Sorimuthu Ayyanar Temple inside KMTR from July 24.
However, political intervention and an assurance from Forest Minister K.T. Pachaimal opened the gates of the sanctuary to those who go to the temple in cars, vans and even buses.
So the forest personnel are suspecting that burning cigarette or beedi ends could have triggered the fire.