POKHARA, Jan 28: A forest fire has been raging Nason Rural Municipality in Manang for the past three days. It has not been controlled yet.
The fire has destroyed huge tracts of high montane forests, shrouding the mountains in smoke. Security personnel are on high alert to tackle the situation and in case the raging forest fire spreads to the nearby villages.
Chief District Officer (CDO) of Manang district, Bishnu Lamichhane, said that forest areas located in wards 5, 6, 7 and of Nason Rural Municipality have witnessed huge fires. "It's very difficult to bring the fire under control because the fire is raging forests situated on the rocky slopes of the mountains," CDO Lamichhane said. He said that difficult terrain has prevented them from controlling the fire.
Lamichhane said that months-long drought also helped spread the fire in the forests this winter. "The fire is spreading rapidly. Our effort to control it has turned futile as of today," he said.
A forest area near the local Tilche village is suffering the most from the fire, according to him. Chief of Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP), Manang, Lekhnath Gautam said that the fire is affecting forest areas located at 2,000 meters to 3,500 meters above sea level. According to Gautam, it is yet to be ascertained how the fire broke out in the forest.
Chairperson of Nason Municipality-5, Chhiring Gyalpo Punel said that the fire first broke out at the bordering area between wards 5 and 6. Human settlements have not been affected as of today as they are located at around 350 meters away from where the fire began. "People in these villages have now temporarily migrated to the lower regions to avoid the chilly winter," the chairperson said.
According to the ward chairperson, this is probably the biggest forest fire in the municipality. Last month, Chame Rural Municipality-2 of Manang witnessed a forest fire, affecting thousands of hectares of forest areas.