Sept 11, Colombo: Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) has rendered its assistance to control a forest fire raging in the Knuckles Mountain Range in the central hills.
The fire which has erupted in the World Heritage mountain range has devastated hundreds of acres of land and is still spreading rapidly, according to reports.
An Air Force Bell 212 helicopter from SLAF Base Hingurakgoda was deployed Saturday to assist in retarding the spread of the forest fire which erupted in the Kehelpola Oruwegala also known as Yahangala mountain range, in Hasalaka area.
Using water from Hasalaka Tank, the crew of Bell 212 helicopter battled the fire with the aid of its under slung ‘Bambi bucket’ flying 12 consecutive sorties (approximately 11,000 Liters) and doused the spread of the raging fire close to the low lying village, the SLAF said.
A huge area of land has been destroyed and the fire is erupting from more locations in the hills, Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Pradeep Kodippili said.
The official said the Disaster Management Ministry, the Armed Forces and the Police have to incur massive expenses to control the fire from spreading into the low-lying villages and fervently appealed to the public to safeguard their environment without contributing to the spread of the fire.
Meanwhile, the state TV reported that another fire is spreading in the Habarana Galoya Reserve and the Army troops and wildlife conservation officials are engaged in an uphill task of dousing the fire which is said to be continuing for three days.
The fire has already devastated more than eight hectares of lands and now spread to the Hatharoskutuwa and Talpathkanda areas in the vicinity of the Habarana-Trincomalee road, the report said.
The dry drought conditions have aided the fires to spread and the Disaster Management Center appeals to the people to be careful not to create conditions for the fires to spread.