Fire: A fire that started during the disposal of explosives below the Tashigatshel RBP training center in Chukha on the afternoon of February 2 was completely contained early on February 3.

The fire broke out during the disposal of explosives by Aibir Infrastructure Pvt Ltd (AIPL). AIPL is an Indian company that is constructing a tunnel at Chukha Dam for DGPC.

At the time of the disposal, as required by the committee, representatives from all relevant agencies were also present.

The detonators’ spark led to dry grasses catching fire and burning out of control. The fire that started at around 1:30pm on February 3 increased to a massive inferno all across the forest along the Tashigatshel center area.

Hundreds of officials from the dzongkhag, including forest and police personnel, officials of Chukha hydropower project (CHP) and Druk Green Power Corporation (DGPC) were involved in fighting the fire.

While most of the fire was contained on February 3 there was still small pockets burning due to it being the windy and dry season.

Chukha dzongkhag engineer, Tshering Chophel, who was one of the committee members to witness the occurrence said they couldn’t interfere immediately as the detonators’ started to create massive sounds and sparks.

“Without the help from the fire brigades, it was impossible to contain the fire,” the engineer said, adding that the fire could have destroyed the training center, otherwise.

“CHPC security personnel played an important role in helping contain the fire,” he added.

Although there were no reports of casualties, a large portion of forest was razed. The fire also affected some areas of Bhutan Power Corporation and Bhutan Telecom.

AIPL will be required to compensate the two companies for the loss of power and telephone cables. Compensation will also be required for the loss of forest.

Explosives can be disposed off only with the approval of the home ministry. AIPL had obtained approval and the disposal process was carried out as per the required procedures.

By Rajesh Rai