TIRUPATHUR/VELLORE: A majority of forest fires are man-made so we're focussing on spreading awareness, Tirupathur District Forest Officer (DFO) Naga Sathish Gidijala told TNIE recently. The forest department has been issuing pamphlets to residents in the foothills or hilly areas.
The department also has a fire alert system where the Forest Survey of India (FSI) sends an SMS when there's a fire, Gidijala said. The systems will identify fire incidents if it is two metres or higher, and alert rangers and guards, according to sources.
"We have conducted a small rally with students. Trekking has been stopped now and we're clearing dry leaves and other waste in the forest. We have mapped the areas vulnerable to forest fire over the years," the DFO added. The department also created two metre-wide trenches at regular intervals in lemongrass in forests to prevent the spread of wildfire.
Officials added training sessions will be conducted for fire department staff to combat forest fires. Fire watchers will not be deployed, instead, the forest guard and other forest department staff will take care of the fires.
The Yelagiri forest range is one of the most fire-prone zones in the district and requires special attention, an official told TNIE adding that miscreants throwing cigarettes and liquor bottles in the forest will be watched.
The Vellore forest department, too, is taking steps to combat forest fires."The district has over 25 dedicated fire watching points with staff on duty. Apart from that in each forest beat, the guard and watchers do regular patrolling," Vellore District Forest Officer, Prince Kumar told TNIE. He said that, in case of fire, watchers would alert and a firefighting team would be dispatched.
The department is also taking help of Village Forest Committee (VFC) members and other village people to extinguish the fire, he added "Since Vellore is a dry area, almost all forest areas except for Amirthi range is highly prone to forest fire. So, we are constantly on alert," the DFO said.