4 succumb to forest fire injuriesOn Tuesday, a fire had broken out in a forest on the banks of the Tirtire River in Bhumikasthan Ward 2. The locals who tried to douse the fire sustained serious injuries, said police.
Four people died after sustaining injuries in a fire that broke out in a forest in Bhumikasthan Municipality ward 2 on Tuesday.
Fifty-five-year-old Padam Belbase, 72-year-old Pitambar Belbase, 36-year-old Madhav Belbase and Ghanshyam Belbase, 52, of Dhakabang Jaithum village succumbed to injuries, said Inspector Krishna Ghimire, who is also the information officer at the District Police Office.
Ashmita Belbase, 26, who also sustained injuries in the incident, is currently undergoing treatment at the Mission Hospital, Palpa. The hospital says she is out of danger.
On Tuesday, a fire broke out in a forest near the Tirtire stream in Bhumikasthan ward 2. The locals had sustained severe burn injuries while trying to douse the flames after the inferno spread towards Padam’s house.
All five injured were rushed to the Arghakhanchi Hospital for preliminary aid, following which they were admitted to the Palpa hospital.
The four seriously injured—Padam, Pitambar, Madhav and Ghanashyam—were taken to Kirtipur Hospital. Padam and Pitambar died on the way to Kathmandu on Tuesday night while Madhav and Ghanashyam succumbed to injuries at 7am on Wednesday while undergoing treatment in Kirtipur, Ghimire added.
Police suspect that the fire was a human error.
According to Chief District Officer Mina Aryal, Pitambar’s wife, Nima, informed her that her husband had hurried to the forest area below their village immediately after the wildfire broke out. “She heard him scold someone for causing the fire,” said Aryal. “She said she could hear him shout at someone but by the time he ran towards the forest, flames had engulfed him. He warned everyone in the village about the approaching fire but could not save himself.”
Nima has appealed to Aryal to take strong action against the person who caused the fire.
The wildfire entered the settlement and destroyed Padam’s animal shed. The villagers gathered and saved other houses and sheds from being burned but they could not save four of their neighbours.
“I was at the school when the incident happened,” said Bhim Lal Banjade, a local school teacher. “I rushed to the site upon seeing the flames. Five locals had collapsed before I reached there. We managed to stop the fire from spreading towards the settlement but could not save the injured.”
According to Banjade, the fire spread in the pine forest in no time fuelled by dried leaves on the forest floor.
The nearest forest office is the Division Forest Office in Sandhikharka, the district headquarters of Arghakhanchi, which is about 35 km away from the incident site. According to villagers, the fire broke out in the national forest for the first time in many years.
Aryal, who is also the chief of the district natural disaster management committee, announced Rs50,000 each to the deceased’s family.
“A detailed investigation into the matter is underway,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Mukunda Rijal. “The person responsible for the bushfire will be brought to book soon.”
Meanwhile, 11 people were injured, five seriously, in a forest fire at Malya community forest in Aathbis Municipality ward 6 of Dailekh district on Wednesday. According to Deputy Superintendent of Police Kishwor Lamsal, the critically injured victims were medevaced to Kohalpur, Banke, for treatment while others are receiving treatment at local health facilities.
It is learnt that the victims were employed under the Prime Minister Employment Programme and were making a foot trail in the area when the fire broke out. They sustained burn injuries as they attempted to contain wildfire in the nearby community forest.