Approaching winters bring Forest fire maladies

Winter is only begun and a fourth incidence of forest fire in Lobneysham in Chapcha gewog under Chukha dzongkhag on November 22 destroyed approximately two acres of Blue Pine forests.
The fire is believed to have started early in the morning towards 6 to7 AM on 22 November.
As per the damage assessment by the gewog forestry official, the estimated value of forest crops damaged accrued to an amount of Nu 3240, calculated on the number of blue pine poles, rhododendron, blue pine and hemlock saplings, and other forest resources.
Although the offender is yet to be apprehended, officials involved in investigation of the cause of fire believe that the fire may have started from a discarded cigarette butt or an abandoned matchstick in the side drains in the early hours. Officials suspect it is mainly to do with the travelers along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway.
As per the fire report, false information of fire occurrence in the same site was reported the day before and “All the villagers, forestry officials rushed to the site but there was no fire”.
The next day, the fire was for real.
As soon as the fire was reported on the second day, forestry and police officials along with the fire brigade rushed to the site. They sprang into action by creating a fire outbreak above the fire head to stop it from spreading into the Community Forests and the village above.
Some 25 fire fighters which comprised dzongkhag and territorial forest officials, armed forces together with the public from the community in proximity to the fire site extinguished the fire after a five hour battle.
In addition, water pumped from the fire Brigade machine spread tree stumps and pine cones, and the traffic officials involved regulated vehicles flow on the highway below to ensure safety from rolling stones and debris.
The fire fighters were able to contain the major part of the fire before the onset of the afternoon wind. But as the wind picked up, it became difficult for the officials. “Although we had a fire tanker, it was time-consuming to fill it up from a long distance,” said gewog forestry extension officer, Kinley Dorji. He said this is because the fire site lacked stored or running water nearby.
The fire was reported between 8-9 AM in the morning by Mr. Nagphel, an Assistant Dzongkhag Forestry Officer who was heading to Thimphu. Before amassing the fire fighters, forestry officials rushed to the site to confirm the fire.
The team was later joined by forestry officials with the whole crew of police. The contained fire started again fanned by afternoon winds but it was however, fully contained toward the evening on the same day.
Pine forests believed to be most vulnerable to forest fires makes up almost the whole vegetation of Chapcha gewog, which didn’t experience fire outbreaks for the past 4-5 years. Forestry officials say this is because of the establishment of numerous community forests.

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