The Lungtenphug blaze, meanwhile, was doused after two days, a record for Thimphu

Disaster: A team of villagers, gewog, forest and police officials are still trying to contain a forest fire that started around 10am in Zobel gewog, Pemagatshel yesterday.

The men have decided to keep a watch on the fire the whole night to ensure that it doesn’t burn towards the gewog office, BHU, RNR centre and a private house, which the gup said, are located on top of the hill from the where the fire started.

Gup Pema Dorji said it was the Resnang village Tshogpa, who first noticed the fire that began in Barnadang, Zobel.

“Since the area is opposite to Resnang, the flames were noticeable,” the gup said. “But there are no settlements in the area nor do villagers visit the area to fetch firewood.”

The gup also said about 30 villagers tried to put off the fire with twigs and water.  The fire brigade couldn’t contain, it since the area is rocky and doesn’t have a road.  Zobel is 12km from Pemagatshel.

“We’ll continue to put off the fire today and keep a watch over it, even though foresters have helped us to draw a fire line,” he said.

Assistant dzongkhag forest officer, DB Gurung, said they have no other alternatives to put off the fire besides using twigs and water.  He said, since they have been unable to contain the fire, they are also trying to save properties. No casualty has been reported to date.

Officials are yet to confirm the cause of the fire. “The nearest area is Gonpasingmang, but the area is known for shortage of water and villagers aren’t willing to fetch water to put off the fire,” he said. “The area contains broadleaf and dry leaf litters, which burn easily.”

Meanwhile, it took almost two days to contain the fire that started on Saturday around 1.40pm above Lungtenphu in Thimphu.

Forest officials said that was the longest they had taken to extinguish a fire in Thimphu valley.  Head of the forest fire management program, Bap Tandin Dorji, said, the cause of the fire is not known.

“Nearby residents say they saw some children playing with match box, but we can’t say if the children started the fire,” he said. “Damages are also yet to be accessed.”

About 700 firefighters including armed forces, forest officials, desuups and volunteers battled the fire, and completely contained it by 2pm yesterday near Thada goenpa.

Starting February 5, forest officials will begin door-to-door forest fire awareness campaign.  They will start from Chunzom and go until Kabisa in Thimphu.  Bap Tandin Dorji said, the awareness program last year was conducted in November and to find out which month is most effective to create awareness, it is being conducted in February this year.


By Yangchen C Rinzin, Samdrupjongkhar