Officials still unable ascertain cause of Yangnyer forest fires

SANGAY RABTEN | Thimphu

Trashigang dzongkhag and Yangnyer Gewog officials are still not able to ascertain the cause of two massive forest fires that blazed the dzongkhag last week.  

As of yesterday authorities were working together to ascertain the cause of the inferno that destroyed thousands of acres of chirpine forest. 

After the fires were controlled, officials immediately initiated an investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire. Officials from the Dzongkhag and gewog investigated and questioned the public individually during the booster dose. However, they could not accrue any hint on the cause of the fires. 

The Chief Forestry Officer of the Divisional Forest Office in Trashigang, Karma Leki, said that though the officials investigated to ascertain the cause of the fire, they could not come out with a definite cause. He added the public were also sensitized about the hazards and risks posed by such incidences.

Karma Leki further said that forest fires have become an annual occurrence in the region and that the recent forest fires in Yangnyer Gewog can be attributed to deliberate ignition.

“The forest fires at this time of the year cannot be accidental but deliberately caused as communities expect a massive growth of grasslands to be used as pastures,” he said. 

The Chief Forestry Officer said dzongkhag officials, Dessup, police, and volunteers battled to contain the forest fire day and night, however, the fires continued to raze from different areas and localities.

The Gewog Administrative Officer of Yangnyer Gewog, Needup Gyeltshen, said that despite officials making a thorough investigation to nab the culprits, they could not ascertain the cause of both the forest fires. 

The first forest fires broke out on 18 January evening at about 8.00 pm in Gongthong, Yangnyer Gewog, Trashigang and it was contained only on 21 January.

Another forest fire broke out in the gewog at about 6.00 pm on 22 January. The fire started from Prabrangsa village under Darjiling Chiwog and it could be contained only on 25 January. 

The first forest fire engulfed hundreds of acres of chirpine forest in the wide expanse of Rolong and Gongthong hills, while the second forest fire razed about 1400 acres of forest. 

The windy weather and difficult terrain posed numerous challenges to combat the fire. However, there is no report of any casualties to human lives and properties.