People who went for trekking from Chennai, Erode, Tiruppur are got struck inside the forest as the sudden wild fire caught in. The trekkers are expected to be aged between 8 to 30 years. The unexpected blaze spread 13 kilometres of the forest and rescuers from the Fire fighting department, Forest department, Revenue department and Police department with required apparatus involved in rescuing the victims.
“Helicopters, sir. Please send helicopters with lots of water.” This was a frantic call from one of the victims of the Theni forest fire on Sunday. When help first reached them, several of the victims cannot be recognized as they were in a unstable state with a devastated structure says Jagadish, The ambulance driver who reached the spot first.
He added “They must have jumped in between the rocks and tried hiding under them when they saw the fire but they were burnt along with the rocks. So much so that we couldn’t differentiate between the victims and the rocks. Both were burnt fully,” He says when he tried to spoke one of the victims to know their location all he could hear was cries for help and people all around being badly burnt.
According to News 18, news channel, Jagadish said “The location was about 35 kms from where I was. First 15 kms had good roads. Beyond that were hills and after a point we couldn’t take the vehicle and our mobile phones lost signal. We had to make calls from a local landline phone, find the location and headed their way with a few locals and some medicines,” says Jagadish. He had recorded his every move as he climbed up, to be sent as information to officials below. There are videos of the forest fire that was consuming the hill he was standing on as he walks further to the top to spot any trekkers, who were burnt beyond recognition. They were crying for help as he is heard consoling them, assuring them that everything will be fine. “The location was about 35 kms from where I was. First 15 kms had good roads. Beyond that were hills and after a point we couldn’t take the vehicle and our mobile phones lost signal. We had to make calls from a local landline phone, find the location and headed their way with a few locals and some medicines,” he added.
Kumaran district manager of 108 service says “We receive so many hoax calls. Sometimes they say their village is burning and when we get there, there wouldn’t be anything. We could not believe initially when we heard more than 30 people got stuck in the forest fire. It was shocking. The caller was asking for helicopters and water to be sent,”.
Meanwhile a Police officer who was one of the first responder for this forest fire call says “I was among the 250 police personnel from Theni and Erode who were involved in the rescue operations. By 3 am we had rescued most of the people who were struggling for their lives. Since we decided to concentrate first on the people who were fighting for their lives instead of retrieving bodies of the dead, we managed to avoid further causalities. Around 6 am on the next day, an army helicopter came and retrieved the bodies of the nine dead people”. And he added “The scenes we witnessed brought tears to my eyes. We witnessed the charred bodies of two people who had died holding onto each other. We saw women amidst the flames crying in pain and asking for help. They said that they felt that they were alive only after seeing us” he finished.