Bhutan — Trashigang forest officials are investigating the source of a fire in Tongshang gewog in Trashiyangtse that destroyed about 500 acres of forest and razed an old empty temple.
The fire started around 3:30pm on March 10 above Duksum in Tongshang gewog, Trashiyangtse, about 15km from Trashigang.
More than 100 foresters, villagers, policemen, Desuups, and dzongkhag officials from Trashigang and Trashiyangtse battled the fire until 5pm yesterday. A fire engine also helped to douse the fire from the road.
Trashigang forest divisions chief forest officer, Kinzang Gyeltshen said they had to prevent the fire from catching onto the five houses that were in the forest. We could have contained the fire earlier had it not been for the wind, he said.
Tongshang gup Tashi Dorji said a 30-year-old temple at Kunzangling village was razed to the ground. There is no nagnten (sacred contents) in the lhakhang because there was no one living in it for a few years, gup Tashi said, adding which was why it was surrounded by bushes that aided the fire.
The dried lemon grass was responsible for the uncontrollable fire. Duksum town tshogpa, Sangay Choeda said the burnt barks of trees from the other side of the river came over to their houses.
The fire was so huge our town, which had so many lights on, looked very dim compared to the burning forest on the other side, Sangay said. It was so hot even on this side of the river.
According to villagers, the fire, which went out of control, is the first major fire incident in the dzongkhag this year. A similar major forest fire burnt across Yangneer gewog last year.
The fire has taken place despite vigorous campaign by the forest division on creating awareness on forest fires during dry season, forest officials said.
Meanwhile, a fire in Pangbang last week suspected to have started from tseri burning razed about six acres of forest.