Forest fires destroy forest cover in three community forests of LamjungWhile the fire in the Tatopani and Mauwaghari forests is out, Chisapani Community Forest is still burning, say locals.
A forest fire broke out in Tatopani Community Forest in Marsyangdi Rural Municipality on Saturday. The fire then spread to Chisapani Community Forest and Mauwaghari Community Forest. Although the fires have been brought under control by the locals in both Tatopani and Mauwaghari forest areas, Chisapani Community Forest is still engulfed in the fire.
The fire started from the banks of Marshyangdi river where the Tatopani Community Forest lies. “The area was covered in billowing smoke inside Tatopani Community Forest on Saturday afternoon. By evening, the fire had entered Chisopani Community Forest,” said Lal Bahadur Gurung, chairman of Tatopani Community Forest. “The fire destroyed around two hectares of forest land in our community forest covering an area of 28 hectares.”
A total of 10 hectares of 34.8 hectares of Chisapani Community Forest has been ravaged by fire, according to Chairman of Chisapani Forest Paru Katila.
The locals and forest officials have not been able to bring the fire under control in Chisapani Community Forest due to the steep terrain. “It looked like the fire was dying out on Monday morning but by afternoon it had started again,” said Gurung. “A motorable road inside the forest area has acted as a fire line and kept the fire from entering the nearby settlements.”
Katila said that although the possibility of forest fires spreading towards human settlements is low, it has already caused damage to large tracts of forest cover, wildlife and the flora of the forests.
Ward Chairperson of Marsyangdi-6 Lila Prasad Ghale said that the forest fire in Chisapani Community Forest has caused more destruction compared to the fires in the other two community forests. “The fires in Mauwaghari Community Forest and Tatopani Community Forest were doused by the locals as the terrain is accessible. But it is difficult to extinguish the forest fire in Chisapani Community Forest,” said Ghale.
According to Purneshwor Subedi, Chief Divisional Forest Officer at the Division Forest Office, Lamjung, the office received the reports of the breakout of forest fires only on Sunday evening. “We have asked the locals to keep us informed. We are also in contact with security personnel from Bahundada to avoid catastrophes.”
The cause of the fire is not known yet, he said.