Bhutan — More than 200 acres of chirpine forest were destroyed in a fire that lasted for more than nine hours in Mongar yesterday.
The fire in Chali gewog had started around 8 am.
Chali mangmi Yeshi Dorji said there was no forest fire in the area for the last 10 years.
The lemon grass had grown so thick and aided the fire to spread, he said.
Officiating range officer, Sonam Dupchu said, despite the help of more than 30 volunteers in the locality, fighting fire became tedious, owing to steep terrain and strong wind. But the team successfully prevented the fire from spreading towards Mongar- Gyalpoishing highway region.
Forest officials said heavy grazing pressure prevailing in the dzongkhag, along with a series of forest fire incidents in the dzongkhag this year, could cause immense vegetation degradation. Once a forest is degraded, its very difficult to restock, said an officer.
Meanwhile, officials suspect cow herders to have started the fire. Forest and nature conservation rules state that the culprits have to pay a fine for actual damage, which will be assessed by the forest officials.
This includes the number of trees burnt, said one officer.