The fire at Kameychhu is not completely contained

Soon after the Khujula fire was contained in Wangduephodrang, a forest fire in Khotakha and Kameychhu broke out on February 15.

Wangdue dzongdag Sonam Jamtsho said the forest fire in Khotokha was contained on February 18. “The fire in Kameychhu is almost contained but there are some trunks burning in the middle of the forest,” he said. “It is inaccessible to people and Punatsangchhu Project and dzongkhag officials were on guard day and night.”

He said the fire in Kameychhu had reached the broad-leaved region and the project authority had its own fire-fighting team.

While fighting the fire in Kameychhu, he said, they focused on preventing the fire from spreading it to Dagana, the other side of the valley.

The cause of the fire in both places was not known.

Although there are no settlements in Kameychhu where the fire started, he said that fire fighters were trying to protect the Lhakhang and Tshamkhangs in Khotokha.

Sili Taagsha’s Gup Nado said the fire in Khotokha restarted after it was contained on the second day. “People carried water in jerry cans on their backs to contain the fire in addition to fire tankers and pipes.”

Dzongdag Sonam Jamtsho said that fire-fighting equipment are limited. “Even if we have fire tankers they can’t reach the fire area,” he said.

He said that water bags were needed because when fire is mopped with soil, the fire was not contained at times.  He said, severe wind and smoke made it difficult to avail helicopter services.

Sonam Jamtsho said it was especially difficult, as just a day after the Khujula fire was contained, the fire broke out in two different places during Losar. “We had to start fighting the fire around 4:30am and if we couldn’t contain it by 10am, it becomes difficult with the wind.”

No animal or person was harmed, he said.

He said the team spirit, coordination and support among people during the disaster was appreciable. About 300 members from the armed forces, deSuung, dzongkhag officials, PHPA officials, and community volunteers helped contain the fire.

Rinchen Zangmo