Fire Destroys Mountain Village in Putao

Early Tuesday morning, a devastating fire swept through Shing Khawng, destroying most of the homes in the village in Khawnglanghpu Township, Putao District.

A local source informed KNG that the fire engulfed the section of the village located on the township’s well-known ice-capped mountain at 2 am, leaving only a handful of homes standing at its base. Out of 300 homes, merely 100 remain. The fire also consumed the buildings used by the community to store their food stockpiles.

“During the COVID-19 outbreak, trade with China was halted. When the border checkpoint recently reopened, residents imported plenty of food from China and stored it in the village. Now, all of these things are gone,” the source said.

One man, whose home and all of his belongings burned in the fire, expressed his complete devastation.

The exact cause of the fire remains unknown. With homes primarily made of wood and situated close together, the fire spread rapidly. Since it’s winter and the ground is icy, residents were unable to salvage many belongings as they fled. As of now, it’s uncertain if there were any casualties in the fire.

“It’s snowing now…villagers are enduring the harsh cold, desperately in need of emergency support,” the first source said. They require food, warm clothing, blankets, and materials to construct shelters. Unfortunately, the area, nestled between Kachin state and China, is remote and difficult to access, particularly during winter. It takes three days on foot to reach Khawnglanghpu town.

Many residents survive by foraging herbs on the mountain and selling them to China. Before the pandemic and the coup, the village was a sought-after destination for tourists.

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