March 14, 2021 10:40:04 pm
A fire that broke out in Shetrunjay Hills reserve forest area, a habitat of Asiatic lions, in Bhavnagar territorial forest division on Saturday evening, engulfed an area of around 200 hectares before the forest department brought it under control early on Sunday.
Officers of Bhavnagar territorial forest division said that the fire started in revenue area of Kanjarda village of Palitana taluka and spread to the adjoining Shetrunjay Dungar Reserve Forest.
“The fire started in revenue area—privately owned hills—of Kanjarda at around 2 pm on Saturday and spread to the forest at around 6.30 pm. The fire spread rapidly due to daytime heat, high velocity winds, dry grass and leave in the autumn season,” K Ramesh, chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh territorial forest division, told The Indian Express on Sunday.
The DCF said that the fire spread to around 150 to 200 hectares before it could be controlled. “Our staff worked overnight in firefighting operations. They lit controlled counter-fires to isolate the area where the fire was raging and managed to control the fire around 3 am Sunday. The wind velocity and temperatures that dropped significantly at night helped… A 10-member team camped in the area to look for any flare up but nothing was observed,” the CCF added.
Bhavnagar territorial forest division is part of Junagadh territorial forest circle. Bhavnagar deputy conservator of forests (DCF) Sandeep Kumar, Bhavnagar superintendent of police Jaipalsinh Rathore and incharge collector of Bhavnagar district Varun Baranwal also rushed to the spot to oversee the firefighting operations.
“As per primary estimate, the fire covered around 200 hectares. However, no damage to wildlife has been observed so far,” Ramesh said, adding nesting birds and insects remain vulnerable in such incidents.
Forest officers said that the fire damaged vegetation on Bhadva Dungar hill, which is part of Shetrunjay Hills and is located near Adapar village of Palitana taluka. “Around 70 forest guards and rangers and around 300 residents of Adapar were involved in the firefighting. As the fire was on a hillside where no vehicle could go, the firefighters carried water to douse the fire. They also used pieces of clothes to control the fire,” a forest officer who was involved in the firefighting operation said.
The Shetrunjay Dunagar Reserve Forest, a patch of hilly, dry and deciduous forest, is home to Asiatic lions and leopards as well as herbivores such as blue bulls. The CCF said that there was no evidence of any large carnivore or herbivore having been trapped in the fire.
This is second fire incident in Shetrunjay Hills in the recent times. A few days ago, a fire broke out in Bhandariya revenue area but the forest department put it out before it could spread to forest area.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.