Fire fighters along with the local people extinguishing fire in the Sundarbans on Monday afternoon Dhaka Tribune

90 acres of the mangrove forest burnt

About 90 acres of forest land has been burnt in 31 fire incidents in the last 19 years in the Sundarbans, according to the Forest Department. 

On Monday, a fire broke out in Chandpai range at the end of the Dhansagar Forest Station boundary of the Sundarbans East Zone under Sarankhola upazila, ravaging around four decimals of land — the latest in the long list of incidents.

It took two hours of frantic efforts to douse the fire, and the Forest Department said the Sundarbans would have suffered major damage had it not been for the vigilance of forest workers. 

Chandpai range Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Md Enamul Huq said: “Several boys entered the forest evading the Forest Department’s eyes. We are guessing that they smoked some cigarettes and threw away the remnants in the forest, which started the fire.”

Strict instructions have been given to the officers and employees of the offices concerned to prevent illegal entry into the forest, he added.

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Meanwhile, Officer M Abdul Wadud of Sarankhola Fire Service station said the exact cause of the fire is yet to be determined. 

Praising the efforts of the forest workers, Divisional Forest Officer Md Belayet Hossain said forest officials concerned have been asked to keep a close watch to prevent similar incidents. 

The fire incident on Monday was the first one in the Sundarbans in nearly four years. 

On May 26, 2017, about five acres of small forest shrubs were reduced to ashes in a fire that broke out at Abdullah Chhila under Nangli forest camp in Chandpai range.

Probe body formed

A three-member probe committee headed by ACF Enamul has been formed to investigate the incident. 

The other members of the committee are Chandpai range Station Officer Asit Kumar Roy and Forest Ranger Obaydur Rahman.

The committee was asked to submit its report on the incident within seven working days.

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