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Karnataka: Major fire in Bandipur Tiger Reserve, hundreds of acres destroyed

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Mysuru, Feb 23: A major fire broke out in the forest area of Bandipur tiger reserve on Saturday. Officials estimate that hundreds of acres of forest areas have been gutted in the fire.

There was no immediate information about loss of wildlife in the fire noticed this evening in the area which was two kms away from MTR and bordering Bandipur in neighbouring Karnataka, forest department said.

Photo credit: PTI

Aided by high velocity wind and dry grass in the area, the fire was spreading in the forest land, officials said adding more than 90 forest personnel of both the states were involved in the fire fighting operation for over four hours.

Officials have suspended safari following the outbreak of fire near the tourism zone and the reception area in the Bandipur range. Movement of vehicles on the national highway connecting Mysuru and Ooty, and cutting through the national park, was severely affected.

Chamarajanagar district fire officer KP Naveen Kumar told The Times Of India that fire services were trying to put out a blaze near the Government Medical College at Yedabetta attached to the tiger reserve. "We have deployed three fire engines at the place after we received a fire call at around 10.30 am," he said. "We are trying our best to douse the fire and prevent it from spreading to another place."

The 87,400-hectre Bandipur Tiger Reserve and 32,000-hectre Wayanad Wildlife Sancturay, along with Nagarhole National Park (64,300 hectares) and Mudumalai National Park (32,000 hectares), form the Nilagiri Biosphere Reserve, one of the most ecologically sensitive regions in India. It is the largest habitat of wild elephants in South Asia.

Low-intensity fires had hit the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In 2017 for the first time a blaze had claimed the life of forest guard. In addition, three others were injured. It is home to vulnerable species like elephants, gaurs, tigers and Indian rock pythons.

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