The February 22 forest fire at Debsi in Thimphu, which claimed the lives of four people and burnt thousands of acres of forest, may have started from sparks from electrical wires. According to Debsi residents, the transformer located in the residential area has been giving problems for some time. Residents have complained about several problems related to electricity supply and the transformer in particular in the past. However, the investigating teams are still trying to figure out the cause.
The residents BBS talked to say the fire could have been caused by the sparks from the electric wires.
They said there was a strong wind that day, which could have caused the old electric wires to swing and collide with each other, causing sparks.
An unnamed construction worker staying in Debsi said, “we were working when we heard three consecutive blasts. We then rushed out and saw small patches of fire caught up on the dry ground nearby the transformer below our construction site.”
Residents also added that the fire started in three small patches at the same time.
This is the third time a forest fire started in the same area in Debsi. The previous two fires were caused by electric short circuits.
Another Debsi resident who didn’t want to be named said, “I didn’t really see how the fire started, but when I looked down from my house, I could see a small fire like a burning garbage pit at the turning above the transformer. The strong wind then spread it to the other areas.”
A month ago, a man living in Debsi reported sparks on an electric pole to the Bhutan Power Corporation (BPC). The BPC then fixed the problem.
The Bhutan Electricity Authority (BEA) is investigating the transformer and the electric wires in Debsi to look for any technical faults.
An official from the BEA said that once they are done with the investigation, they will know if the fire was caused by electrical sparks or not.
The fire rescue team from the Royal Bhutan Police said that the investigation is ongoing and the cause has yet to be known.
Edited by Sherub Dorji
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