Update: Though the Trashigang forest fire continues to burn towards the edge of the Ritshangdung area, the main fire heading towards the dzong was contained at around 4:30am yesterday.
Another fire returning towards Trashigang (Mithidrang) town from the Rangshikhar area was also brought under control in the nick of time. Given the threat to the dzong, the operation was primarily centered on securing the monument’s safety.
Fire fighters that included forest officials, police, civil servants, desuups and local volunteers battled the blaze through the night to stop the main fire. Chief Forestry Officer (CFO) Dendup Tshering said that backfires were started at night when the direction of the wind changed.
“We opted for fire lines during the day because the wind was blowing towards the dzong. At night, we resorted to backfires and put in people until the fire was brought under control,” he said.
Yesterday, forest officials and volunteers were mopping the fire-affected areas to avoid fanning of sparks by the wind. Towards the afternoon, rainfall also aided to the process.
Apart from the difficult terrain, another challenge while fighting the Trashigang forest fire was the starting of spot fires owing to strong winds. A spot fire is a fire started by flying sparks or embers at a distance from the main fire.
Meanwhile, residents of the town, Pam and other areas where the fire was spreading remained awake for most part of the night on Monday.
“We had cleared all the bushes around our houses and were waiting with buckets and buckets of water fearing the fire might come our way,” a resident of Pam said.
The Trashigang forest fire that started from Chenari on Monday afternoon razed over 100 acres of forest towards Manthung in Kanglung, the dzong and towards Rangshikhar. However a spot fire towards Ritshangdung area is still burning.
“We have decided to group together in the morning at 6am and head towards fighting the fire at Ritshangdung area,” Trashigang Range Officer, Kinga Norbu said.
Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang