The forest fire in Haa which is now in its sixth day has yet to be contained. An estimated 1,000 acres of the area have been burnt so far. Our reporter Kipchu was on the frontline with the firefighting team in Samar Gewog today. Here’s his report.
People of Samar have been gathered in the forest near Langpa village to try and put out the fire that has started spreading towards the village in the last few days. Rugged terrain, dry weather and lack of water nearby are some of the challenges they are facing in containing the fire.
“As the nearest river is downstream, we have to carry water on our back up the hill which is difficult. The only solution is putting soil on the embers where water is not available. That’s why it’s becoming difficult to control the fire,” said Rinzin Dorji, a resident.
“The Dzongkhag administration has supported us so far but we want their support again. As the fire has now spread across a huge area, it’s difficult for the villagers to cover the entire area,” said Singye Namgay, Langpa_Norbugang Tshogpa.
In Uesu Gewog, fire lines of around 10 meters wide have been made around monasteries. Volunteers from almost all households have contributed to firefighting efforts.
However, Gewog officials say the fire is still ablaze in the mountains which are quite far from Haa valley. The cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained, however, villagers in Langpa say it started from an area, where illegal tree felling is quite rampant.
“There is an area in the forest where mobile network is accessible, that’s where the fire started from. Lots of people from other places come to the forest in our area. So some could have gone to the spot to access the network and could have made a fire which led to the disaster,” said Singye Namgay.
However, forestry officials say around 80 per cent of the fire is contained. They expect to put out the fire entirely by tomorrow.
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