A well-coordinated fire-fighting effort by the Army and the Indian Air Force were able to control a huge jungle fire which had erupted in Tirumala area of Andhra Pradesh, yesterday afternoon. Information was received from the State Administration yesterday at 1500 hrs intimating that a jungle fire had erupted in Tirumala area and was inching closer towards the Tirupati Temple. The Defence Crisis Management Group, an apex level body of Defence Forces for managing disaster situations, chaired by the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff immediately swung into action and within 15 minutes, a coordinated and integrated response was undertaken by the Army and the Air Force.
Continuous aerial recces were launched by the Air Force to ascertain the extent of damage and spread of fire. Initially an AN-32 aircraft carried out the recce of the area at 1800 hrs yesterday to provide full overview of the problem. Another light helicopter based recce was launched an hour later. In the night, a C-130 aircraft got airborne at 2330 hrs and with its sophisticated gadgetry, recced the affected areas for fire spread that could affect the holy Tirupati Temple. Two MI-17 V5 helicopters with Bambi buckets with a capacity of 4000 litres of water each, reached Renigunta Airport and commenced the task of fire fighting. The helicopters carried out four sorties wherein all forest fires burning near the Temple were extinguished. Two Army columns have also been moved from Chennai and reached Tirupati at 0400 hrs, today. These are deployed to assist the State Administration in dealing with the crisis. HQ Integrated Defence Staff is in touch with the authorities of the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam and continuously monitoring the Armed Forces response. The helicopter operations are likely to continue till tomorrow.