With 985 forest fires, Andhra Pradesh stands top

With 985 forest fires, Andhra Pradesh stands top

VISAKHSAPATNAM: Amidst the hot summer season, Andhra Pradesh has found itself among the top five States in the country with the highest number of large forest fire incidents in the past week.

According to data from the Forest Survey of India, the State recorded a total of 95 large fire incidents across various divisions, while Odisha led the tally with 323 incidents. Andhra Pradesh has claimed the top spot for the highest number of large forest fire events in the 2023-2024 period since November 1, with a staggering 985 fires reported.

Large fire events reported in the period from April 1 to 23 have recorded a sharp spike of 97.66% in one year. As many as 423 large fire incidents were reported this year in the 23 days as against 214 during the same period in 2023.

As of 5 pm on April 23 this year, there were 18 active large fire events raging in the State. These incidents were reported in Chittoor, Kadapa, Markapur, SPSR Nellore, Palnadu, Prakasam, Eluru, Alluri Sitarama Raju, Anakapalle, Parvathipuram Manyam, Anantapur, Tirupati, Rampachodavaram, Palakonda, and Pathapatnam.

The large fire event in Tirupati has been persistently active since April 18, making it the longest ongoing incident in the State.

From November 1, 2023 to 2024, Andhra Pradesh recorded the highest number of fire alerts in the country, with 15,864 SNPP alerts and 1,573 MODIS alerts. In the last seven days, the State received 1,163 SNPP and 105 MODIS alerts, ranking it among the top five States in the country.

Multiple forest areas along the border of Anakapalle and Alluri Sitarama Raju districts, known for their cashew plantations, have been ravaged by forest fires in the recent times. In a recent incident, a tribal family residing in the Zeelugulova hilltop village in Ravikamatham mandal of Anakapalle district lost their home and three acres of cashew plantation to a forest fire.

The family highlighted the lack of water facilities in the region, which hindered their efforts to extinguish the fire promptly. Tribal communities residing in these hilltop villages have attributed the impact of the hot weather on these forest fires. The forest fires have exacerbated the issue of reduced crop yield in the region.

According to forest officials, the department is implementing protocols to prevent and control forest fires. They are creating fire lines, which act as barriers by removing fuel and stopping the spread of flames.

Additionally, ‘View Lines’ are being marked to help with accessibility and detect fires from a distance. Clear guidelines and awareness campaigns are being conducted to educate visitors on proper behaviour in forest areas.

Officials are also using data and alerts from the Forest Survey of India (FSI) to deploy personnel in vulnerable forest areas across the State to prevent fires.