Yangtse dzong escapes fire

Yangtse dzong escapes fire

13 February 2012

published by www.kuenselonline.com

Bhutan —  … so did the royal guest house, about 100 metres below the dzong

The Trashiyangtse dzong almost caught fire that loomed just 100 metres below it yesterday.

A girl, class II student of Trashiyangtse school, living in a traditional house at Rinchengang, about 200 metres below the dzong had set afire the bushes near her house around 1:30pm.

Dzongkhag forest officer Phuntsho Tobgay said the fire spread from the bushes located above the girl’s house.

“When we surveyed the child’s house we found plastic toys of crockery lying around,” he said, adding that her elder brother informed the officials that his sister was fiddling with a matchbox.

The parents said they did not know the child was playing with a matchbox.

“The girl was probably trying to make a fire on which to lay her toy crockeries and pretend to be cooking something,” he said.

The fire was, however, doused before it could reach the royal guesthouse, located between the dzong and the house the girl lived in, about 100 meters below the dzong.

“Had it not been for the prompt response from our fire brigade, we’d have lost control over the blaze,” Phuntsho Tobgay said.

Although no lives were lost, the fire burnt around 10,000 tree saplings and around 10 acres of forests within the dzong premises.

The fire also charred some cable lines and telecom wires.

“We couldn’t contain the wind-fuelled inferno sooner to be able to save such damages to the forests,” Phuntsho Tobgay said.

Dzongkhag officials said the fire lasted more than two hours.

Yangtse gup Karma Wangchuk said the fire seemed much closer than 100 metres.

“But with prompt response from the police it was put off before it could reach the guest house,” he said.

Civil servants, community people, labourers engaged in the dzong renovation, dancers and police helped snuff out the fire before it could do further damage.

Trashiyangtse dzongda Sangay Duba, who was kept updated on the fire over the phone in Thimphu, sighed with relief when the last call he made informed him of the success in extinguishing the fire.

“The fire could have, otherwise, caused some serious damages to the dzong if it caught the woods at the ongoing renovation work site,” he said. “The damages too have been minimal.”

The fire did not catch the traditional house the girl was living in. Her parents were inside the house when the fire started from the bushes a few metres above their house.

Trashiyangtse police said investigation was on to ascertain the girl’s age to determine whether she was liable for some penalty.

Going by the forest and Nature conservation Act 1995, a person responsible for setting forest fires are liable to pay a fine of Nu 300 to Nu 1,000 for every hectare destroyed.

Bhutan Forest Act 1969, adds that it is punishable with imprisonment in addition to the damage done to forest.

Forest and nature conservation Act also specifies that failure to apprehend a culprit of a fire, the entire village would have to take the responsibility of restoring the forest and maintaining it.

In the heat of it: Volunteers in Yangtse douse the fire that raged for about two hours

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