Prayers for our fighters

Still raging

Whenever we hear of forest fires, no matter where and no matter when, we hear of our armed forces fighting those fires. We’ve become used to seeing them arrive first on the scene, and leave last, only after containing the wild fires. Indeed, many of our forests have been saved thanks mainly to the bravery of our men in uniform.

And so it was this afternoon, when a fire broke out in the forests above YHS. Our armed forces mobilized themselves in no time, and rushed to contain the fire that, fanned by the early afternoon winds, was spreading quickly in the dense pine forests.

But tragedy struck. A truck, carrying more than 20 policemen, veered off the road as it tried to cut a corner in the narrow path leading to the forests. The truck’s brakes had failed. And it slowly plunged into the precipice below the road, all the way down to the YHS campus. The accident killed two policemen on the spot. And injured 17 others. The injured are recovering in the JDWNR hospital, but two of them are in critical condition.

The tragedy seems senseless, given that they were on their way to protect us and our forests. It also seems cruel – the policemen on the ill-fated truck were all very young men, mainly teenagers, who had only recently completed their training and had reported for duty just yesterday.

Like the rest of Thimphu, I’m mourning the loss of precious lives. My heart goes out to our police force, especially to the friends and relatives of the two policemen who died in the line of duty. Please offer your prayers for them. Please also offer prayers for the injured – may their recovery be quick and complete.


Forest fire

Lopa village

Saved ... phew!

The people of Lopa village in Haa, Samar Gewog, did not sleep last night. They stayed up to guard their village – a cluster of mostly old farmhouses at the edge of a pine forest – from wild fires that was spreading through the woodland above their village.

The fire had started yesterday afternoon. And the Haa Dzongdag had quickly mobilized forestry officials, civil servants and community volunteers to fight the blaze. But the fire, which was fanned by strong winds, would not be contained. And by nightfall, the dzongdag wisely called off the fire fighting efforts as boulders, set loose from the rocky outcrop above the village, came hurling down the hillside.

But by the crack of dawn today, dzongkhag officials and volunteers were already battling the fires. This time they were joined by almost a hundred RBA soldiers. And this time they were successful. They bought the fire under control.

Had it not been for the quick response of the dzongkhag and forestry officials, and the help of the army, the fire would have razed Lopa and spread through the neighbouring village of Nobgang to the dense pine forests above Puduna. And the fire would still be raging.

Featured in the banner are the remains of the recent snow that put out a big forest fire in Katsho, and helped contain another one today.