Update: Firefighters yesterday saved the Tsiphu village and Jatoe lhakhang in Paro from the Chuzom fire that is now spreading inside Paro.
Forestry officials said that knowing that the fire was ragging they drew fire lines and used backfire technique yesterday and on Thursday to save the village and the lhakhang. Backfire or back burn is a fire that is set deliberately in the path of an oncoming fire to prevent a fire from spreading.
The fire is still burning and has reached below Dongkola goenpa, but the goenpa is not at risk according to the caretaker. Three policemen are stationed at the geonpa to inform any risk from the fire. The caretaker said the fire is about a hours’ downhill walk from the goenpa. “We are safe unless the wind direction change the course of the fire,” he said.
Thimphu Dzongkhag Forest Officer Phento Tshering said the fire that spread towards Thimphu was brought under control. The officer however, warned that the wind is blowing towards Thimphu and if the fire in Paro is not controlled, there are chances of the fire spreading towards Khariphu village in Thimphu.
More than 200 firefighters, including personnel of the army, police, forest department, Bhutan Power Corporation, Desuung, and volunteers have been battling the fire that began at Chuzom on February 15.
With the hydromet forecasting strong winds today and tomorrow, it will be a huge challenge for firefighters to battle the fire that has been burning for five days.