Fire in Ella rock forest rekindles environment concern | Sunday Observer

Fire in Ella rock forest rekindles environment concern

25 August, 2019

Deforestation has escalated though it is difficult to claim who is responsible for it when probing into data from 1998 to 2018, Environmental Conservation Director Sajeewa Chamikara said.

He was refering to the plight of Ella Rock forest region devoured by a fire on August 22.

The raging fire enveloped the Ella rock forest region in the afternoon of August 22. “The fire encompassed the top of the Ella rock yesterday and that has made the tri-forces, the wildlife officers and the disaster management to struggle in blowing out the fire,” said Pradeep Kodippili, Deputy Director and Media Spokesperson, Disaster Management Centre. He said, “This is not a forest fire. This is done by people and it’s not the first time such a thing happened. This is just another incident of the same nature. The fire rages rapidly since it’s the dry season of the year. It costs a lot to extinguish these fires and also under the Wildlife Act, if found guilty, the culprits can be punished”.

“We have been asked to send in an aircraft to blow out the sudden flare-up of fire in the Ella rock forest region. The fire is dampened down to a certain level, but due to the prevailing weather condition, the setting is quite forbidding and the approach to it has got more strenuous,” said Air Force Group Captain Gihan Senevirathna.

He also added that the Air Force troops were on the way to the location on August 23 morning. Meanwhile, Ella Police OIC said that the fire could be blown out completely by August 23 afternoon.

Chamikara said that in Sri Lanka, natural forest fires don’t occur. During this dry season including the months; July, August, September where the droughts are likely to hit the intermediate zone, people tend to kindle fire on large scale to hunt animals, to collect forest products and ‘Kudumberiya’ leaves which are used to make ‘Beedi’, to head off the elephants and reptiles and most of the time just for amusement,” he added.