Sharmili Mallick

A massive fire broke out at Beladala forest under Balukhand Forest Range along the Puri-Konark Marine drive, destroying several acres of forest land in the region on Wednesday evening.

As per reports, Casuarina (Jhau) plantation in around seven to eight acres of land in Zone No-13 of the forest was damaged in the fire, informed Balukhand forest ranger, Benudhar Behera.

Locals of Balukhand area spotted the fire in the nearby forest yesterday and informed the forest officials.

A team of forest officials and firefighters along with locals launched a massive operation and managed to bring the flames under control within hours, added reports.

Though the exact reason behind the origin of the flames was unclear, forest officials said someone might have dropped burning bidi butts on the dry leaves scattered in the jungle which led to the fire mishap.

“Someone might have dropped burning bidi butts in the jungle which triggered the flames and later engulfed the huge swath of land in the forest. Three fire tenders and eight tractors were deployed in the fire dousing operation. The blaze has been brought under control. However, the officials were directed to guard the forest at night to ensure the fire does not recur,” said Behera.

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