PANCHTHAR: A wildfire that advanced from the nearby forests to human settlements reduced nine houses to embers in eastern hilly districts of Panchthar and Terathum on Sunday.

Every year in the dry season, Nepal witnesses wildfires that ravage timbers worth millions and engulf large swathes of conserved forests and houses, sometimes even leading to loss of livestock and human lives. But, the harm – authorities and victims say – is mostly self-inflicted by denizens in the region.

The residents of many hilly areas set ablaze dry shrubs and grasses near their fields to clear grounds for re-planting crops in more fertile land. The blaze fanned by windy conditions spreads quickly and sweeps through large swathes of community forests as a peril to human settlements, putting lives and property at risk.

Interestingly, the wildfire victims accept that they torch dry grass around their fields and community forests to improve soil conditions without foreseeing probable outcomes of igniting fires in wildfire-prone areas.

As many as eight houses were gutted when separate wildfires in community forests spread to human settlements in Khotang.

Houses belonging to Gopal Pandey, Yubaraj Pandey, Abhikeshar Pandey, and Bhim Pandey at Gahlegaun of Rawabeshi Rural Municipality-5 and houses of Tom Bahadur Niraula and Pahalman Niraula at Aishelukharka Rural Municipality-7 were reduced to ashes in the fire.

Strong winds had caused the wildfire that started from Gadhithumka and Kasheghaderi community forests to the human settlement.

Rawabeshi Rural Municipality chair Lilanath Niraula said that wind had caused the fire to spread.

Gopal Pandey and Yubaraj Pandey were displaced after the wildfire reduced their houses to ashes.

The exact details of the damage were yet to come as police and locals were busy dousing the blaze.

The wildfires completely destroyed the community forests. Locals and security personnel doused the blaze after several hours.

Though the wildfire at Rawabeshi Rural Municipality has come under control, the fire still poses danger at Mapka’s Lewa area in  Aishelekharka Rural Municipality-7. The cause of the wildfire is yet to be ascertained, said Aishelukharka Rural Municipality chair Biswonath Niraula.

Similarly, Bidhya Kumar Rai’s house at Lafyang of Rupakot Majhuwagadhi Municipality-5 was also gutted.

The fire that started from a local Gairikhet community forest reduced Rai’s house to ashes.

The wildfire that started at Dhanmuda Chayanpur Community Forest at Khotehang Rural Municipality-7 has gone out of control, according to Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar KC at District Police Office, Khotang.

(Edited By - Prahlad Rijal)