By Jatindra Dash
BHUBANESWAR, India (Reuters) - Indian forestry officials said on Thursday they had brought a week-long blaze in a tiger reserve under control.
Hundreds of forestry officials in Similipal National Park, home to protected species including the Bengal tiger and Asian elephant, have been using leaf blowers to clear debris at risk of catching fire.
"The fire is totally under control," said Jitendra Kumar, the principal chief conservator of forest in the eastern state of Odisha, where the fires are burning.
The fires, which have so far affected around 300 hectares of forest, have been caused by an abnormal rise in temperatures, he added.
Biswajit Mohanty, secretary for the non-profit organisation Wildlife Society of Odisha, said there was a lack of accountability over the fires, which hit the region each year during the dry season.
"There is no effort by the (forestry) department to involve the locals and the community to control the fire as a result of which we saw these devastating fires occurring in Similipal, every year," he said.
Shashi Paul, another forestry official in Odisha, said, however, efforts are made every year to involve local people, including holding awareness meetings.
(Reporting by Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar; Writing by Alasdair Pal; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)