A forest fire that broke out above Bajo town in Wangdue at 2:30pm yesterday has spread towards Punakha.

Wangdue dzongrab Nima Gyeltshen said that the fire around settlement areas has been contained. “The settlement area is safe however, the fire at present is spreading towards Phangyul.”

He said that the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained adding that it is being investigated.

No damage to property or casualty was reported as of yesterday evening. It was found that about 350 hectares of forest was damaged yesterday evening.

An official from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) said that two firefighting brigades had been deployed, each near Phangyul Goenpa and Chhundu Goenpa. “Although these are not critical, fire brigades were deployed.”

DeSuups, Punatsangchhu Project officials, Royal Bhutan Police, Royal Bhutan Army, forestry officials, and community volunteers were involved in containing the fire, he said.

No helicopter services were availed to contain the fire.

The DDM official said that a small portion of the fire is not contained above Phangyul Goenpa. “The fire had entered the broadleaved forest and according to villagers and forestry officials the fire would contain on its own. The fire has spread to Tala Meba community forest which is a marshy area.”

He said that firefighting team had to withdraw for safety reasons around 7:20pm yesterday. The team had been containing the fire since 3pm.

However, the fire was being monitored, he said. “The direction of the wind also helped subside the fire spreading towards Phangyul Goenpa.”

Rinchen Zangmo