The fire even surrounded the Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple for a short period of time.

1000 hectares of trees burnt after fire breaks out at Andhras Seshachalam forest
news News Thursday, February 23, 2017 - 08:40

A major fire reportedly broke out at two places in the Seshachalam forest in Chittoor district on Wednesday. 

According to a report in the Times of India, around 1,000 hectares of trees were affected, as one fire broke out near the Annamaiah pathway leading to Tirumala, while another occurred at Mallaiahkonda.

The TOI report adds that the flames even surrounded the ancient Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple for a short period of time, before it was brought under control by fire tenders and forest officials.

The Seshachalam forest is prone to fires every year.

Authorities often deploy local villagers as 'watchers', along 'firelines', which are paths made through the forest to make monitoring and controlling a fire easier.

According to reports, shepherds are the main culprits, as they often set grasslands near the forest every year, ahead of the monsoon season, expecting fresh grass to grow during the rains.

According to a report by the state's Forest Department, only 350 sq km out of 36,914 sq km forest cover in the state is not prone to fires.

Fires are also not the only problem that authorities are facing. Smuggling is another concern.

Red sanders are indigenous to the Eastern Ghats in Andhra and grow mainly in the Seshachalam hill ranges spread across Chittoor and Kadapa districts in the Rayalaseema region.

The wood has a huge demand abroad, especially in China and Japan.

The Andhra government often seizes several tonnes of logs every year during combing operations by special forces in the forests.

The logs are often auctioned later by the state.

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