Update: Although it was not confirmed what caused the fire that destroyed four structures in Samdrupjongkhar town on March 2, police have not ruled out the possibility of a LPG cylinder burst.

There were 11 tenants in the two-storey house. Of the 11, six were rented apartments, one a bar with lodge, two pan shops and two optical shops. The fire according to police, tenants and eyewitnesses first started from the bar.

Police official said around 5:30 pm when Kezang, a bar owner went inside the kitchen and lit the stove, a blaze erupted and she quickly ran out of the kitchen.

All the customers and the owner managed to escape from the bar when the fire caught the ceiling.  But before all of them could go out, the LPG cylinder burst.

The fire spread to another house close by before the rest of tenants could save their belongings.  Another LPG cylinder burst from another house followed by two more cylinders.

Everything was lost to the fire including cash. No casualties were reported.

Some tenants said they managed to prevent about three more cylinders by saving them. “It could have been a bigger disaster,” said one.

It took about an hour to contain the fire.

The bar owner’s son, Thinley, said they are suspecting the fire to have started from the electricity socket inside the kitchen, as the wires were not connected well and often created short circuit.

Thinley said he lost cash including his piggy bank, which he claims to have deposited Nu 1,000 everyday for the last three months.

Another tenant Amjad Niyan said he got stuck inside the house, which is right downstairs of the bar’s kitchen and nearly got buried under. “Along with me another two more tenants were stuck inside but we managed to escape with help after about 10 minutes. I couldn’t save anything except a LPG cylinder.”

Mon Maya who lost her pan shop claimed of having Nu 67,000 inside the house. Another tenant claimed to have lost Nu 32,000 in cash and his belongings.

While rest of the survivors have put up at relatives’ place, the dzongkhag and thromde office have provided three empty rooms below the Thromde Tshogde hall including emergency kits to the victims. Druk Satir and Thromde have also provided them with food.

The victims were also provided semso of Nu 15,000 Kidu from His Majesty’s Kidu office.

Located next to the traffic roundabout, the private two-storey semi permanent houses were built in 1956 and are the oldest house in the town.

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Samdrupjongkhar