Thimphu and Paro in a haze with a mega forest fire

Tourists alighting from Druk Air in Paro hoping to get a gulp of fresh air instead got some fresh air tinged with a smoky flavor of forest fire.

This week alone, three cases of forest fire has been reported in three different places, Haa, Chuzom and Wangdue, out of which the forest fire in Chuzom is still out of control and more than 500 people including the armed forces and DeSuups have been battling it for the last five days.

The fire from Chuzom has taken on a life of its own producing huge amounts of smoke that continue to blanket the Paro and Thimphu Valleys. The fire seems to also have taken over the shelved 1,000 acre Education city site.

The fire in Chuzom started at around 1:30 pm on 15 February and it has been five days since the fire has been out of control. In the five days almost 5,000 acres of forest has been lost to the fire.

An official said that, the fire was caused from an electric short circuit from the Chorten near Chuzom. He also said that they are trying hard to put off the fire and it has now reached the opposite side of the Dongkala Lhakhang area.

“There is no casualty nor any damages caused to any house in these five days. Everything is safe but the thing is that we lost a huge area of forest to the fire and is difficult to bring under control”, he said.

More than 500 firefighters including BPC staff, RBP, RBA, DeSunng, civilian, forest official and local people have been fighting the fire.

Meanwhile Thimphu police caught five boys in connection with the forest fire at Samarzingkha. All the boys are students and are minor (12 to 15 years) and found to be the residents of Changjiji colony.

Police said that, the group of boys were heading towards Changlimithang stadium for long tennis coaching when they found a matchbox and tried to light a small fire whereby they failed to control it due to the strong winds.

Eyewitness said that, after lighting the fire the group of boys tried to escape the scene but they couldn’t since they were trapped in between the river and the fire and by the time they could escape the scene police reached the scene.

The fire was started at 11:30 am on 13 February and could put off at 3:30 pm with the help of officials from RBP, RBA, DeSunng, civilian, chopper, general public and locality.

Police said that they alone cannot take action against the group of boys, they will have to discuss with the forest officials for further action.

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