SHIMOGA: A devastating forest fire that has been in full force since Saturday afternoon has destroyed the flora and fauna in 6,000 hectares in Shettihalli Wildlife Sanctuary.
Rich forest wealth, various animals, including deer and various bird species, crops like cashew, areca and banana in 40 acres of land were gutted in the ravaging fire.
The Forest Department personnel could not enter the thick forest to put out the fire. The fire was first noticed by the residents of Basavanagadde in Thirthahalli taluk on Saturday. The villagers tried to put out the fire. But on Sunday afternoon, the entire hill range was gutted and burnt into ashes.
Nearly 120 families residing in the area have not slept in the last three days fearing that the unpredictable wind will change the direction of the fire.
Forest watcher Doddappa, who has been working in the department for the last 25 years, said he never saw such a devastating fire in his life.
“We have been trying to control the fire. But we cannot clean the entire forest. The fire can not be controlled despite our efforts. Even 100 people could not do anything as the flames go up to about 500 ft and the sparks spread to other areas,” he added.
He added a lot of animals were running to other places to save their lives. Also, many cattles and bison died due to the smoke.
The fire covered villages like Shankara, Sirigere and Shettihalli and damaged forest wealth in Maragigudda, Karakuchchi, Basavanagadde, Tamadihalli Gate, Sampigehalli, Chinmane, Manjarikoppa and Maleshankara. Rosewood, teakwood, Nandi, Matti, Hunalu and other valuable trees were completely gutted in the fire.
“We have got information that the fire broke out in 15 places in the region. Thousands of acres of forest land has been ravaged by the fire. We have been trying our best to control it. There was no such worse incident in the recent years,” said ACF Satyanarayan. He added the fire spread quickly due to dried leaves and bamboo.