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The fire that began from Tshendona in Paro since February 9 had been spreading in various directions in the last five days.

Sources say firefighters have been working to secure the Taktsang monastery with two firelines, which was at threat from several directions since February 11.

Paro dzongkhag’s chief forest officer, Kaka Tshering, said the fire towards Taktsang side was contained around 3:30pm yesterday. “The fire in Dotey could not be contained.”

Volunteers make fireline at Chatseygang (Courtesy: Forest official)

Volunteers make fireline at Chatseygang (Courtesy: Forest official)

He said that the fire was contained before it reached the fire lines. “We gave priority to Taktsang area. There are no settlements at Dotey. We will try to contain the fire in the area today.”

Although a complete assessment of the damage is yet to be conducted, about seven yaks near Sanga Choekhorling lhakhang and 13 in other areas were reported to have died due to the fire.

Kaka Tshering said the officials would visit the area once the fire is contained to assess the damage. “We will also investigate the cause of the fire.”

More than 500 people including armed force personnel, DeSuungs, locals and people from forestry were involved in containing the fire.

Meanwhile, another fire in Wangdue that began on the evening of February 10 was contained by February 12 evening. But it restarted around 6:00pm and was contained yesterday morning.

A forest official said that the fire began from Nahi gewog and headed towards Khujula Goenpa located in the gewog. The fire then reached Thedtsho gewog.

He added that the lhakhang was secured with a fire line in the area. “Troops were located at the area and the place is safe now. Mopping was also done to prevent it from rekindling.”

Armed forces personnel, DeSuungs, forestry officials, locals and officials from Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project Authority joined to fight the fire.

No casualties were reported and officials said that the cause of the fire is still unknown.

Although the chopper was deployed in the area to contain the fire on February 11, Royal Helicopter services limited’s chief executive officer, Chhewang Gyeltshen, said the chopper couldn’t be of much help because of low visibility, narrow valley, and high tension power lines in the area. “We retained the chopper for safety.”

Phurpa Lhamo

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