Three labourers died and two others were seriously injured while dousing a fire that broke out in the Navegaon-Nagzira Tiger Reserve (NNTR) in Gondia district of Maharashtra, a forest department official said on Friday.
Senior forest official M Ramanujam said that the fire was started by unidentified persons at around 11.30 am on Thursday in compartments (territorial units of a forest) in Nagzira and Pitezhari areas of the reserve.
He said 50 to 60 forest staff, including officers and labourers, were engaged in dousing the flames which were largely controlled by 5 pm.
However, due to strong winds, the fire spread again and three forest labourers died and two others were seriously injured after getting caught in the blaze, the release said.
Those who died were identified as Rakesh Madavi (40), Rekchand Rane (45) and Sachin Shreerange (27), it said. The injured were sent to a Nagpur hospital for treatment, it added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced a financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the relatives of those who died, according to a statement issued by his office.