Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

The first forest fire of the year in Lhuentse broke out early morning on October 12 in Menbi gewog and engulfed more than 500 acres of lemongrass and chir pine trees.

While the fire is yet to be contained, a firefighting team constituting foresters, de-suups, police personnel, Tangmachu HSS students, monks of Takila monastery, and a few villagers with the help of a fire engine could save Tangmachu HSS, two houses in the new settlement below a giant Guru statue, and a Tashi Cell tower, according to forest officials.

However, steep and rocky terrain is hampering the firefighting efforts.

A senior ranger of the Lhuentse Range Office, Jamtsho said the fire has descended and reached Kurichhu river as of last night. It is expected to be naturally kept at a boundary when it falls along the river banks.

The cause of the fire is suspected to be an electric short circuit. Eyewitnesses from a point opposite Manjabi village told forest officials that the fire began at around 2am, near a lone house in Tungkhar village below Tangmachu HSS.

Jamtsho said though the area is forest fire-prone, it’s been about seven years since the last fire incident.