Bhutan — A forest fire, which started near Tingtibi on the early morning of November 26, has destroyed about 400 acres of forestland between Tingtibi and Zhemgang.
Fanned by fierce winds, the fire almost reached Zhemgang proper on November 28.
The dzongkhag forest officer, Pankey Drukpa, said that, with about 70 volunteers, forest officials, police, students and civil servants in the dzongkhag deployed, the fire could be put off by the second day. There was a spot located on a steep cliff where we couldnít deploy firefighters, he said.
Its difficult to control the fire with twigs, said one firefighter.
Falling stones and the steep cliff also threatened the firefighters.
However, forest officials believe that the fire could be brought under control with fire lines made in numerous places. It will depend on how many steep cliffs we might have to encounter, said Pankey Drukpa, adding that fighting forest fires in steep terrain was a daunting task. To make matters worse, fire travels faster uphill.
Forest officials assured that there would be no heavy damage on forest coverage as the vegetation coverage was mostly chirpine tress, which are fairly resistant to low intensity fire.
Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is yet to be known. Pankey Drukpa, told Kuensel that all forest officials were engaged in controlling the fire and did not get time to investigate. The forest office, would however investigate after bringing the fire under control.
Local sources believe that the fire could have been sparked off when people tried to roust out wasp pupa from their hives, as the fire started about 3 AM. Its the season and no one would go to the forest at the time, except wasp extractors, said a source.
Zhemgang town, suffered from a 30-hour power shutdown, as burnt chirpine trees fell on transmission towers near Tingtibi.