Firefighter killed in national park in India

Two other firefighters suffered serious burn injuries while suppressing the 400-acre fire.

A firefighter was killed February 18 while fighting a fire in Bandipur National Park in India. It was reportedly the first time a wildland firefighter in the southern state of Karnataka has died in the line of duty.

The victim, identified as Murugappa Gouda Thammannanavar, was part of a team suppressing a fire in the Bandipura Tiger Reserve. Two others who suffered serious burns initially treated at a local hospital were later transferred to KR hospital in Mysuru.

“There was wind blowing from all directions and Murugappa could not escape from the spreading flames,” said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ranga Rao.

Below is an excerpt from an article in The Hindu:

While the immediate cause of the fire is not known, it has been established that most of the fires are caused by humans. In many cases, the dry vegetation is set ablaze by miscreants from the local community to wreak revenge when they are booked by the authorities for being in conflict with the law.

Bandipur is going through one of the worst dry spells in recent memory and though forest fires are an annual affair in view of its dry deciduous vegetation, the intensity of drought this year is high. The national park has suffered from two consecutive years of dry spell, and the failure of the southwest monsoon this year has aggravated the situation.

There are 373 waterholes in the national park, which is spread over 874 sq. km, but nearly 350 of them have gone dry.

Bandipur National Park is known for its tigers, Indian elephants, spotted deer, gaurs (bison), antelopes, and numerous other native species.

Our sincere condolences go out to Mr. Thammannanavar’s friends, family, and co-workers, and we hope the two injured firefighters have a speedy recovery

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.