Forest fire crosses border into S. Bhutan

Forest fire crosses border into S. Bhutan

27 March 2012

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Bhutan — Villagers of Tading gewog in Samtse, along with some 25 volunteers, are still fighting the forest fire that started on the evening of March 25, which is suspected to have set off by people from across the border.

The fire could have started around 5pm on March 25, but the villagers and the tshogpa learnt about it only later at night, when the flames became visible.

Villagers said the fire started from the other side of the forest, which is not visible from Samtse, in a place called Mahadewdam. People from across the border usually come there to fetch firewood.

Forest officials informed the gup about the fire around 11pm. “By then the fire had became uncontrollable,” gup Ashok Tamang said.

With twigs and earth, the community started to fight the fire at 9am yesterday, and was able to contain it in about a kilometer of forest cover. “But the fire has already climbed up, and it’s becoming difficult for the firefighters, given the steep terrain,” the gup said. “Fortunately, there is no human settlement in that area.”

He also said that, while there is a temple near the forest which people still visit, they do not light incense sticks or butter lamps inside the temple.

The villagers are hoping to contain the fire today.

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