Chamkhar fire victims switch to stone and mud

Shopkeepers in Chamkhar town, whose houses were razed by a fire in December last year have started reconstructing their homes.

Some have already placed their windows and door frames on their ground floors. Others have piled up cement and rods by their sites.

Some construction materials are still being transported to the sites today and workers are engaged in construction.

Ugyen, 45, of Yeshi general shop started reconstruction of his two-storey house a week ago.

He said based on experience, he is now building his house using more stones and mud unlike the previous one. “Only the ground floor was built with stone and mud and the first floor was mostly built using timber,” he said. “But this time, I am using more mud and stone for safety reasons.”

Ugyen said even the dzongkhag officials suggested using more stones and mud to construct their houses.

He was provided with timber and CGI sheets as kidu. “Availing sand, stone and gravel is difficult,” he said.

Ugyen is expecting to complete his house in two months if everything goes well. His shop has remained closed since the fire. He lives in a rented room in the town today.

Another shop owner, Tshering, said she is yet to start construction.

While her construction material is at the site, labour is unavailable. “My carpenters are from the east and they are engaged in crop cultivation at the moment,” she said. “Carpenters are expected to be at the site next month.”

Tshering said she will be constructing her house like the previous one. The first floor will be constructed out of wood since stones and sand are expensive and difficult to get.

Another shopkeeper said it would be helpful if dzongkhag officials caution and disallow people to keep carton, paper, fire woods and other woods by their houses in the town as it is risky. “We try to tell each other but it doesn’t work,” she said.

Dzongkhag engineer, Yeshey Dorji, said people are asked to build the house fully of stone and mud masonry depending on their affordability. “This is aimed at reducing the risk of fire in future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the December 28 fire gutted four double-storeyed structures. The other two, one on either sides, of the gutted houses, were demolished by deploying excavators to prevent the fire from getting spread. There were 22 shops operating from the four houses.

Nima Wangdi  | Chamkhar

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