More than 100 people, including forestry officials, dzongkhag officials, police, desuups and village volunteers are fighting a forest fire that started from Hebji village in Chapcha, Chukha.

The fire, which started on December 13, has destroyed more than 800 acres of forestland, according to forest officials in Chapcha. They are yet to find out the fire’s cause.

Hebji is between Paga and Tshamdra villages of Chapcha. It is located above the Damchu bypass on the Phuentsholing – Thimphu highway. The fire started between 2:15pm and 3pm.

Officials said that forestry officials from Chukha, Paro, and Gedu have also joined them to contain the fire since yesterday.

Forest officials say that although the fire has not caused damages to houses and lhakhangs in Paga and Tshamdra as of now, there are chances that the fire could spread if not contained soon.

Chapcha’s forest ranger, Kezang Jurmey, said that strong wind yesterday afternoon fanned the fire and some forest officials and policemen were stuck in the fire. “They escaped unhurt.”

The chief of forest protection and enforcement division (FPED), Kinley Tshering, said that the fire at the lower areas in Thimphu side has been contained.

“But we are having difficulty in accessing the fireline due to the steep slopes,” he said. “We will have to go to Haa side to verify how we can gain access and contain it.”

FPED officials said they are working on containing the fire before the National Day celebrations.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing