The Odisha forest department has embarked on a warlike battle to douse the blaze that has engulfed parts of the Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.

The forest fire has intensified to Betanoti, Rasgobindpur and Morada forest ranges of the national park, spread across 2,750 sq km, endangering wild animals including tigers, besides burning a large number of medicinal plants, herbs and trees.

The raging fire drew the attention of the Union Forest Minister Prakash Javedkar who called for a report from the state government . A tweet by a member of the royal family of Mayurbhanj triggered the spate of reactions. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan brought it to the notice of his colleague Javedkar.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today reviewed the situation and was briefed by additional chief secretary Mona Sharma that the fire is under control, SOP has been issued and DFOs are furnishing daily updates to the district collector.

She said no casualty has been reported and that the PCCF ( Wildlife) is in Similipal monitoring the fire fighting measures. Big trees have not been affected, she added.

The CM noted that STR is one of the richest biospheres and needs utmost care and attention.

“We are trying our level best to control the fire that has already become widespread. Besides the locals of the forest-side villages who volunteered to lend support to the forest department, a massive contingent of over 1,000 forest personnel are on the job in rotation round the clock to tame the blaze. They are equipped with 40 fire tenders and 240 blower machines to contain the blaze”, said Additional Director, Simlipal Tiger Reserve J.D. Pati.

Scattered across 2,750 sq km area of idyllic environs in Mayurbhanj district, STR is the fourth largest tiger reserve in the country.

The rich ecosystem of Simlipal Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO recognized reserve, is spread over 5569 square kilometres.