Chencho Dema

Punakha—Firefighters from Wangdue, Punakha, and Punatshangchhu-I successfully contained a forest fire that originated from Ohkalum, at the base of Chimi Lhakhang in Punakha yesterday.

The fire, which broke out around 1:10pm, posed a threat to the vicinity of Chimi Lhakhang. It was brought under control after a five-hour effort.

Strong winds and dry vegetation facilitated the rapid spread of the fire.

The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. However, thanks to the prompt response of the firefighters, Chimi Lhakhang itself was spared from any damage.

However, the fire did reach and destroy the office and storage facilities of the Chimi Lhakhang Redevelopment Project (CLRP), located approximately 60 metres from the lhakhang.

Project manager Lhaten Dorji estimated that equipment and timber worth approximately Nu 4 million were lost in the blaze.

The fire ravaged over five acres of forested area.

CLRP was initiated in March 2021 to renovate various facilities of the lhakhang, including dormitories (drasha) for monks, with accompanying toilets for 24 users, installation of steel throngdrel frames, construction of a kitchen and dining hall, as well as residence for the lam, and a guest house.

As part of the project, older ancillary structures such as the Lam’s residence, ritual hall (choekhang), VIP guest house, an existing dining hall, and dormitories were demolished to make way for the new facilities and renovations outlined in the CLRP.

About 70 percent of the redevelopment work has been completed. The fire incident is expected to cause delays of several months in the project’s timeline.