Attempts are being made to douse the massive fire at Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan’s Alwar district on Wednesday with two Indian Air Force helicopters joining the action to control the blaze by ferrying water from nearby Siliserh Lake to spray over the forest.
The wildfire, which started on Sunday and had spread over 10 sq. km, is gradually reducing.
No tigers were affected in the Akbarpur forest block where the fire broke out, though it is the territory of four adult tigers and five cubs. Tiger Reserve’s Field Director R.N. Meena said the tigers were safe and their movement was being constantly monitored after they moved to the plains. The reserve in all has 27 tigers.
The situation was stated be “almost under control” in the areas with thick easy-burning dry grass, while about 600 hectares of tropical dry forest was burnt in the fire. More than 200 people, including the forest staff and villagers, were engaged in dousing the blaze and the residents of the villages in the periphery of fire-affected area were asked to move to safety.
Mr. Meena said the fire-fighting operation would continue with the help of disaster relief personnel and eco-development committees until the situation was fully brought under control. The fire, which broke out in the hills at Baleta Prithvipura Naka on Sunday evening, had spread to Narandi, Rotkyala and Baheri areas inside the reserve till Tuesday.
Since the flames were visible on Wednesday in an area which had less dry grass, the forest officials expected that it would not take much time to completely control the fire. Two State Disaster Response Force teams were deployed in the reserve after high winds fuelled the blaze, while attempts will be made later to prevent the spread of fire from half-burnt stubbles at the site.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the State and Union governments were working in coordination to bring the situation under control. “The fire has come under control to a large extent... It is a matter of relief that no loss of life or wildlife has been reported [in Sariska],” he tweeted.