The summer rain received in the district has not only soothed the urban landscape and human habitations. The rain has turned a big relief to the Forest Department which has been on the toes since March following sporadic incidents of forest fire.
In Coimbatore Forest Division, repeated incidents of forest fire were reported in three forest ranges in namely Madukkarai, Pooluvampatti and Coimbatore.
Forest Department officials said that the rain played a major role in dampening dry grasses and shrubs which are prone to catch fire.
“We had anticipated pre-monsoon showers in March. But is was delayed. The rain received so far have reduced the risk of forest fire for at last one week to ten days. We are expecting more rain in the coming days. If we get more showers, the fire season of the year will be over,” said A. Udhayan, Assistant Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Coimbatore Circle.
Though the risk of fire cannot be ruled out fully, fire will not spread easily in the forest as the soil has become wet. According to Mr. Udhayan, all the seven forest ranges in the division Madukkarai, Pooluvampatti, Coimbatore, Periyanaickenpalayam, Karamadai, Mettupalayam and Sirumugai have fire prone areas.
“The forest in all these ranges are located on the eastern facing slope of the Western Ghats. The western slopes of the Western Ghats in Kerala get more rainfall and hence the vegetation is always lush in green. Whereas, we have deciduous and grassland dominated vegetation in our forests,” he said.
He said that all the fire reported in the forest division were put out quickly with great deal of work and zeal from the frontline staff of the Department and volunteers of environmental NGOs.
“Some of the forest patches in fire could not be accessed immediately due to inhospitable conditions like the steep terrain and high level of grass growth. We waited for the fire to reach the best accessible area and put out the same,” said Mr. Udhayan.
Apart from wetting the dry shrubs and grass which are easy to catch fire, the rail will also trigger seeds of various plants and grass varieties to sprout in the forest.