Kendrapara: The spark from funeral pyre swept through about half-an-acre stretch of mangrove forest in Barunei reserve forest under Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, causing damage to standing trees.
The freak fire mishap occurred yesterday at Chitaakhola forest area of the wildlife sanctuary. However it was doused promptly by fire brigade personnel and forest department staffs, said forest range officer, Amaresh Nath Pradhan.
The reserve forest, which has come under inferno, is an ideal habitat for spotted deer species and wild boars.
Locals of Pentha village had performed the last rites of a villager. The residents of the forest-side village were cremating a body by burning firewood when the mishap took place. After cremating the body, they had left the spot with smoke billowing out from the pyre. Later spark from the burnt wood led to the outbreak of fire, he said.
The fire caused damage in limited scale. It was extinguished on time. Fire brigade and forest personnel with active assistance of residents of nearby villages doused off the inferno on time. Because of timely intervention, extent of damage has been greatly minimized.
The particular patch of land was being used by the locals as a cremation ground since long. However fire mishap of this nature was not reported in the past.
It’s an act of illegality to bury or cremate bodies in protected reserve forest. Under no circumstances, such human interference and unlawful use for forest land would be permitted to take place in future. The forest department had earlier lenient view of cremation rites as they were adopting adequate precaution in completely dousing the pyre following the cremation, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, BImal Prasanna Acharya.
The forest department has registered a case under Orissa Forest act and Wildlife Protection Act in this connection, the official concluded.