Forest fires wipe off 20,000 acres of forest this year so far
Deccan Chronicle.| Balu Pulipaka
Screengrab from Jeelgaikunta forest fire in the Amrabad tiger reserve.
HYDERABAD: The forest fire season which began this January has seen 20,779 acres of forest burnt with 9,946 fires being reported till Friday. Of these, 735 fires were related to forest encroachments and podu lands, according to data from the forest department.
The maximum damage from fires has occurred so far in the Nallamala forests falling in Nagarkurnool district and in the Amrabad tiger reserve with as 4,715 acres affected, followed by 3,680 acres lost in Nirmal, the home district of forests minister A. Indrakaran Reddy.
The third and fourth this year so far were from Mahbubabad district with 3,007 acres burnt, followed by 2,415 acres lost in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district.
The blaze in the Amrabad tiger reserve two days ago in the Jeelgaikunta beat took 20 fire teams armed with blowers around 12 hours and well into the night to beat the fire down, and affected nearly 60 hectares. The terrain where the fire occurred in the tiger reserve is undulating and fire-fighting in such areas can quickly turn hazardous as the blaze creeps uphill and there is no way to control it from going down from the higher reaches of the hills, an official explained, adding that this was one of the reasons why it took long to control this particular fire.
While the terrain in some forests is a challenge when it comes to controlling and putting off fire in the forests, sources in the forest department said that one of the serious causes of concern are the fires set off around encroached forest and podu lands.
This season, of the 735 such fire incidents, 265 were reported from Mahbubabad district, followed by 203 in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district. Seventy-eight such fires were reported from Komram Bheem-Asifabad district with 57 reported from Nirmal, and 44 from Jayshankar-Bhupalapally districts.