Hundreds of acres of forests have been damaged in the fire that has been raging for the past couple of days in different parts of Attappady and other forest areas of the district. Mannarkkad DFO ivisional Forest Officer T.C. Thyagrajan said told The Hindu over phone on Tuesday that since fire broke out in many parts of Attappady around the Malleswara Mudi (peak) simultaneously, it was suspected that the forests were deliberately set on fire.
The fire first started deep inside the forest near Malleswara Mudi. Generally fire would not break out in such deep forests, which had good tree cover. More than 90 hectares of forest was lost in the fire, the DFO said.
In Attappady, fire broke out in half a dozen spots. Forests that were destroyed included areas which were afforested under the Rs.219 crore Japan-aided Attappady eco restoration scheme.
The Forest Department was investigating the matter, the DFO said.
He said that three teams consisting of more than 100 forest officials were engaged in dousing the fire in Attappady. The high temperature led to the spread of the fire.
Fire engulfed areas including Venthapetty in Pudur grama panchayat, Pottikkal, Mukkali, Chavadiyoor, Kinnakkara and so on in the Agali Forest Range. The forest fire broke out in the Sholayur areas of Attappady, close to the Tamil Nadu border, he said.
Large tracts of forests in other parts of the district such as Kunchiyarpathy in the Alathur forest range, Ananganmala, Kottoppadam and Kanjikode in Walayar forest range were also destroyed in fire.