By Gamini Bandara Ilangathilaka – Maskeliya
A fire which broke out on 17 February in a Eucalyptus plantation at Mocha estate in the Maskeliya Police division, has spread to the Sripada reserve destroying an area of five acres.
Hatton Range Forest Officer, B. H. Sujith Ajantha said that the fire quickly spread due to the dry weather and winds and extinguishing the fire was extremely difficult due to the area being rocky and inaccessible.
It took three days to put out the fire with the involvement of army officers of Mawussakale army camp and troops of the 581 Brigade of Kotagala army camp, STF officers of Rikatan camp and forest officers, he added. The fire has been active from time to time since 17 February to 20 February.
Those who disobey the given instructions and engage in setting fire to forests would be arrested and taken to the court with the assistance of the police
He also said that with the dry weather prevailing in the Central Hills, several individuals are setting fire to shrubs, plains and reserves with the intention of trapping and killing wild animals for meat . Even with several programmes being implemented to educate and inform estate labourers to refrain from such activities they appear to be involved in such activities with impunity.
Those who disobey the given instructions and engage in setting fire to forests would be arrested and taken before the court with the assistance of the Police, he added.
Fires were seen in shrub jungle and plains in the catchment areas of Mawussakele and Castlereagh hydropower plants in the Central Hills during the last few days.
The Police suspect that an individual had set fire to the area.
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