Kingathang, Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang Forest officials yesterday apprehended three boys, suspected to have started a forest fire at Kingathang in Phobjikha, Wangduephodrang that burnt down more than 20,000 acres of blue pine, as of 6pm yesterday.
The suspects aged 7, 9 and 12 were caught at the spot, when forest officials, while patrolling, saw the fire that started around 10:30am yesterday.
“We were on field visit when we saw the fire,” said Damber Bdr Chhetri.
The suspects, who are students, confessed that the fire spread, when they attempted to make a small fire, using the match some pilgrims, who visited Kilkhorthang ney, left behind.
They told foresters that they made fire to warm themselves. Kilkhorthang is around 30 minutes climb from Phobjikha valley.
Meanwhile, a team comprising foresters, officials from royal society for protection of nature, natural resources development corporation ltd, and more than 100 local volunteers, battled the fire for more than 10 hours.
They stopped at dusk, because of continuous wind and frigid terrain.
“It’s unsafe for the firefighters,” Damber said. “The team will resume as early as possible.”
Tenzin Namgyel, Wangduephodrang