Fire: More than 3,000 acres of Blue Pine has been razed by the forest fire that began at Chuzom on February 15.

With reinforcements from the army joining the battle, more than 400 firefighters attempted to control the blaze yesterday.

After being started by a short circuit on a transmission pole, the fire burns for the fourth day, today.

A forest department official said that the fire burning towards Thimphu has been controlled to a certain degree as of yesterday and that its intensity was less.

However, the fire burning towards Paro remained out of control as it had reached steep terrain cutting off access to firefighters.

The villages of Kariphu in Thimphu, and Tsiphu in Paro, were not affected by the forest fire and remain out of danger as of yesterday.

The forest department official said that additional reinforcements have been requested from the Bhutan Power Corporation for today. The electricity company will be contributing 98 personnel, which should increase the number of firefighters to above 500 today.

Firefighters were taking around three hours on foot to reach the fire yesterday but this time is expected to be less from today. However, the forest department official said that the direction of the fire is unpredictable.

The government’s helicopter did not partake in firefighting activities, yesterday.

The forest department official said that firefighters may ask for air support today but not to drop water. The official said that the helicopter may be used to transport firefighters and supplies. It was added that given strong winds, the water being dropped from the helicopter was not reaching the fire and so was ineffective.

Meanwhile, the forest fire in Wangdue was controlled by early afternoon yesterday after reinforcements from the army joined the fight.

Between 800-900 acres of forest was destroyed.

Gyalsten K Dorji