Relief: His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck granted semso to the victims of the recent fire mishap in Mongar town yesterday.

The Mongar town fire that lasted for more than five hours has left 28 families homeless with their homes razed to the ground.

Most of the victims, comprising of six landlords and 22 tenants could not save their belongings.

Each landlord was granted Nu 10,000 semso with blankets, and utensils. The tenants received Nu 15,000 each with blankets and other basic items such as utensils and water containers, among others.

HRH the Gyaltshab delivered His Majesty’s semso and relief kits to the families affected by the fire in Mongar town yesterday. A total of 29 families have been affected by the fire.

HRH the Gyaltshab arrived in Mongar from Gyalpoizhing immediately after the fire began, and conveyed Royal Commands to coordinate firefighting efforts.

After the fire was contained, HRH the Gyaltshab met the victims to convey His Majesty’s deep concerns, as well as the Royal Command to the dzongkhag to immediately extend all support necessary.

On the Command of His Majesty The King, the Office of the Gyaltshab and Mongar dzongkhag arranged accommodation, food and other relief measures for the affected families.

His Royal Highness Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck is His Majesty’s representative in the east.

The victims expressed their gratitude for the timely help.

One of the tenants, Karma Choki said: “My gratitude to His Majesty The King knows no measure for what we have received. It’s sad that our misfortune has cost the country.

Another tenant, Sangay Dorji said his family didn’t save anything except for the clothes they were wearing. The father of two, the oldest aged seven, works as the dzongkhag administration’s driver and his wife is a supporting staff in the Mongar Regional Referral Hospital.

HRH Jigme Dorji Wangchuck remained in Mongar town to oversee the assistance to the victims.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay arrived in the town, with National Assembly Speaker Jigme Zangpo and senior government officials, on the command of His Majesty The King yesterday morning. He inspected the houses damaged during the mishap.

Lyonchoen also met with the victims, house owners, and business people in the evening.

He said that a worse disaster in Mongar was prevented due to the supervision of HRH Gyaltshab Jigme Dorji Wangchuck.

HRH the Gyaltshab spearheaded efforts to contain the fire with armed forces personnel, Desuups, civil servants, students, residents and volunteers.

Lyonchoen instructed the dzongkhag officials on what needed to be done immediately as safety measures. He assured the victims that they will be provided with insurance as soon as possible.

The government will also provide students with books and stationary.

The fire was extinguished after a house was dismantled using an excavator to create a firebreak as all the traditional houses were built attached to one another.

Mongar police suspect a gas cylinder leak to be the cause of the fire. The fire razed four traditional houses and the attics of two other buildings.

A fire fighter, a constable with the Mongar Police, broke three of his ribs while trying to put off the fire. He was airlifted to the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital yesterday.

The dzongkhag disaster and administration arranged temporary shelters at the Mongar Lower Secondary School for affected families and provided tents and tarpaulin.

The house owner of a two-storey traditional house, Kinley Penjor, 52, said that most of his tenants were low-income families. He and his family stayed at a friend’s place during the night of the incident.

The fire started from the attic of a two-storey traditional building near Namgay Hotel above the children’s park in Mongar town, located close to the fuel depot, at around 4pm.

About half a dozen cylinders exploded as the fire continued to consume the homes one after another, jumping to a row of houses next to Neulee Hotel and the choeten.

Residents panicked and threw their belongings out onto the road. Many even left the town with whatever they could manage to fit into their vehicles fearing an explosion if the nearby fuel depot caught fire.

People broke windows, and pulled down parts of walls  to save whatever belongings they could.

The dzongkhag administration officials, desuups, armed forces, volunteers and other businessmen worked through the night.

Tashi Phuntsho and Tshering Palden