The fire that broke out on Monday noon in the Das Varani area of Sharankhola Range under the Sundarbans East Forest Department has been extinguished after 30 hours through many attempts from the various departments concerned and locals.
Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence authorities have confirmed that the coordinated efforts from the locals and the Fire Service members, the Forest Department, the Community Patrolling Group and rains have helped put out the fire.
The Forest Department could not yet determine the damage caused by the fire but the Fire Service said at least 3 acres of forest had been burnt. Locals claimed it was at least 5 acres.
According to the Forest Department, 3% of forest land was burnt in a fire in Chandpai Range in the eastern part of the Sundarbans on 8 February.
There have been 25 fire incidents in the Sundarbans in the last 20 years.
A few locals said they informed the Forest Department after seeing smoke billowing from the forest on Monday. Later, Forest Department officials entered the forest with them.
But, they were late to reach the scene, they said, as it was far away from the locality.
Md Firoz, a member of the Community Patrolling Group, a voluntary organisation supporting the Forest Department, said, "We helped the Forest Department with cutting tree branches and carrying Fire Service equipment to douse the fire."
Md Afzal Hawlader of Rasulpur village adjacent to the forest said, "The Sundarbans is like our mother. It saves the people of the coastal area from natural disasters. We also depend on it for our survival. But fire incidents are occurring one after another in the forest."
These fires do not just burn the trees, various animals are also affected severely. Although there are frequent fires in the Sundarbans, the cause of the fire is not known to the general public.
Afzal said they want to know the causes of these fires and protect the mangrove forest.
Fire Service's Deputy Assistant Director in Bagerhat Golam Sarwar said, "We have been able to extinguish all the visible fires. But, there are many thick piles of dried leaves which may result in a dormant fire somewhere. If the Forest Department informs us about any hidden fire, we will make arrangements to douse them."
Regarding the damage, he said at least 3 acres of forest land, including several large trees, have been burnt.
Mohammad Mahmudul Hasan, divisional forest officer of the Sundarbans East Forest Department, said, "Forest patrols have been intensified in the area where the fire broke out. A three-member inquiry committee has been formed to find out the cause of the fire and the extent of the damage."
He said legal action would be taken against anyone if investigation finds their involvement.