Who is to be blamed for the Lanjophakha fire?

The police are still investigating the case of the forest fire that destroyed 437.81 acres of blue pine forest in Langjophakha in the capital, in the afternoon of February 23.

The forest fire was contained after four days with more than 700 people fighting the fire. The dzongkhag forest officer, Ugyen Tshering, said that internal damage assessment has not been carried out due to observation process required to check on the trees for a few months.

In the course of the investigation, the police found out that a fire had broken out at a construction site which belonged to the Thimphu Dzongda’s wife. About Nu 10 million worth of construction materials was destroyed by the fire, but details of the materials were not given to police.

Also there were three huts in the vicinity of the forest fire. During the time of the forest fire, a resident living in one of the huts had gone to Trongsa for Losar break while the lady living in the other hut along with man in the third hut had gone to work at the water source. The wife of man living in the third hut was attending to household chores and picking up the dried beef hung behind hut, and leaving her three young children on their own.

There were also three men playing khuru, about few meters away from the huts, and they had seen smoke coming from the storehouse at the construction site of the wife of the Thimphu Dzongda that was already on fire. The three men had rushed to the fire site and had tried to control the fire.

One of the children living in the huts, when asked how the fire had started, said it was the three-year-old who had started the fire while playing with match sticks.

Though the cause of the fire has been attributed to the three children, based on the statement given to police, however, there are no witnesses.

The three men playing khuru were also questioned but they had said they were not involved in causing the fire. Moreover, it was found that they are non smokers.

With seven of them present during the outbreak of the fire, it has become very difficult for the investigation team to say who the real culprit is.

Chencho Dema / Thimphu


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