The Seshachalam forest area went up in flames, causing tension in the temple city, as the fire spread was at a visible distance from Tirupati.
The hills above the northeastern side of Tirupati were seen engulfed in flames since morning, which slowly spread to the upper portions, making the northeastern suburbs slowly, yet steadily, feel the heat. The flames only exacerbated the dire situation due to the lockdown. Many residents of Jeevakona and Satyanarayanapuram areas reached their roof-tops and silently watched the raging flames spread upwards, while some others captured the same on their mobile phones.
Authorities from the Forest Departments Tirupati Wildlife Division rushed 40 men to the spot, even as the TTDs Forest Department deployed 25 men from its side to tame the fire. Though the fire was originally believed to have been caused by the scorching summer heat, forest officials firmly believe it to be the handiwork of mischievous elements venturing into the forest area from Jeevakona for fun or anti-social activities. It is not a forest fire, but man-made fire in the forest area, Divisional Forest Officer (Tirupati Wildlife Division) M. Nagarjuna Reddy confirmed to The Hindu.
Moreover, the terrain is hard to reach and no vehicle (four-wheelers or fire tenders) can be taken closer to the spot. Only fire-beating is possible here, he pointed out. Fire-beating is a process of hitting the burning trees and shrubs in the jungle with the help of coconut fronds.
Even as the forest staff zeroed in on most of the raging areas, Mr. Reddy hoped that it could be tamed sooner than expected.