Submitted by Kumuda on Sun, 2017-02-19 10:35 Bengaluru: It took nearly 16 hours for the forest staff and volunteers to mitigate the rapid wildfire that broke out claiming large swathes of green cover and a life of a guard at the Bandipur Tiger Reserve on Saturday. They struggled until the wee hours of Sunday to control the fire that had spread along the borders of N Begur range. The fire which was first noticed near Kalkere watch tower spread rapidly and destroyed thousands of hectares of forest land. It also took the toll of a forest guard Mureigyappa Thimmanagoudar. Three persons including Gangadhar, Range Forest Officer, Moleyur and two more watchers too have suffered burns injuries. The department staff along with volunteers were able to prevent the spread of fire by 4 am on Sunday morning. Meanwhile, BJ Hosmath, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest and Chief Wildlife Warden who arrived at Bandipur along with other officers inspected the spot. However, the department is yet to estimate the damage caused to flora and fauna due to fire. Sources in the department said that nearly 60 per cent of Kalkere range was burnt down in the process. However, the top officials were not available for comments. Meanwhile, the Wild Trails India, a private organization has announced a relief of Rs two lakh to the family of the guard. The firm, according to the founder Manjunath Gowda aims to help the forest ground staff is also contemplating to set up a corpus fund to support the forest saviours’ families in the long run. As the last reports came in, the forest personnel were gathering details of animal deaths in the fire mishap.