Wildfire breaks out at Simlipal Tiger Reserve

Bhubaneswar: At a time when the world is observing World Forest Day, wildfires on the other hand are playing havoc in two forest reserves of the state. The firefighters are having a tough time to check the wildfires that have broken out at Simlipal Tiger Reserve in Mayurbhanj and in a forest in Kamakshya Nagar in Dhenkanal.

The two wildfires are turning worse day by day as the firefighters have failed to check the raging fire.

Currently, 12 out of 50 forest divisions in the state are affected by wildfire. These forest divisions fall under eight to nine districts including Gajapati, Phulbani, Keonjhar and Koraput. Forest area measuring around 15 lakh hectare out of 58 lakh hectare across the state are struggling with the problem of wildfire.

Following the outbreak of the wildfire, State Chief Conservator of Forests Suresh Mohanty has expressed deep concern over it. Practice of podu cultivation and other reasons are behind the outbreak of such wildfires in the state, the conservator said.

“We have identified 12 such forest divisions that have been affected by wildfire. Currently, there are 50 fire protection squads across the state. Eight to ten people have been engaged in each squad to check the spread of the fire. Besides, we have employed daily labourers in these work,” Chief Conservator of Forests Suresh Mohanty said.

As per the Chief Conservator, the forest department has asked for 50 firefighting costumes and is forming fire lines. This apart, arrangements have been made at 890 places to provide special economic to villagers in order to engage them in the work.

According to reports, several mountains located in six forest ranges under Simlipal Tiger Reserve have been badly affected by the wildfire. It is feared that wild animals and creatures living in the mountains of Chahala, Naana, Barehipani, Gudukudia and Dudhiaani ranges could have been killed in the rampaging fire.

“The fire has engulfed everything and not a single animal could be traced due to the spread of the fire,” Sarpanch of Asthikamar Anand Birua said.

“We have provided proper protection. We have formed fire lines and watchers have been engaged to check the spread of the fire,” Karanjia DFO Kalicharan Hansda said.

Similar outbreak of fire has been reported in the forests of Kamakshya Nagar.

However, steps are being taken to stop the spread of the fire.