KARONGI — Police in Karongi are hunting for a man suspected to have set a fire which destroyed over six hectares of Nyungwe national forest. They are suspecting that the man was harvesting honey.
Four other suspects are under police custody for allegedly burning a similar size of pine forest in the neighboring buffer zone.
Louis Rugerinyange, the forest’s chief park warden, said those in police custody were illegally burning charcoal from the pine trees.
The fire quickly consumed a vast section of the forests before a team of fire fighters including police, forest officials and army from the RDF 157th Battalion put it out, the warden said, warning residents against illegal charcoal burning.
“We have done public campaigns to discourage such activities and stepped up our security to guard the forests to protect national interests,” Rugerinyange said.
Meanwhile, a similar incident occurred in Bisesero, Karongi District where fire gutted eight other hectares of the forest.
Efforts by emergency teams to battle the fire were futile.
There were no casualties according to police reports but the unfortunate incident suddenly brought to end hopes of improving the reforestation efforts.
“The incident was fueled by the drought. However careless people who carry out economic activities that are largely to blame for the rampant fires that have now become a threat will have to be dealt with,” police said.
Last month fire gutted close to 107 square kilometers in the Akagera National Park causing one of the most devastating fire out breaks the country has so far witnessed.