Fire: Smoke billowing above Balithangkha village, opposite Wang Sinmu in Thimphu didn’t convince villagers that there was a forest fire above their village until the fire spread and covered about three acres yesterday afternoon.

It was the first forest fire in the middle of summer recorded in Thimphu. Fifteen forest officials and volunteers took three and half hours to bring the fire under control. The fire burnt only the dried leaves and the ground level grass and no damage to trees was reported, forestry officials said.

Officials could not establish the cause of the fire, but mushroom collectors to be behind the fire.

Thimphu district forest officer (DFO) Phento Tshering said there was no recorded case of forest fires at this time of summer. “We can have forest fires up to mid April, but not at this time,” he said. “We have no recorded case.” It rained the previous night.

Ranger of Thimphu, JB Rai, who investigated the cause of the fire, said foresters and volunteers had to climb up the hill to reach the spot. “We tried to trace the cause of the fire but we could not confirm,” he said.

He also said that the fire occurred at a remote forest where there is no human settlement. “The fire could have started by mushroom collectors as it is the peak season for mushroom,” he said.

MB Subba