Authorities are battling to contain fire that broke out on Mount Kilimanjaro — Screenshot via @Benji_Fernandes on Twitter
BY FRANCIS AKHALBEY
Firefighters and hundreds of volunteers in Tanzania are battling to contain a reported fire outbreak on Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, the country’s National Parks Service (TANAPA) confirmed in a statement on Monday.
According to Al Jazeera, an official from the parks service, Pascal Shelutete, said the blaze – which broke out on Sunday – started around the Whona camp, one of the rest centers for visitors and climbers who throng the popular tourist spot.
“Firefighters from TANAPA, other government institutions and locals are continuing with the efforts to contain it,” Shelutete said.
There are no reports of deaths, injuries and damage of property at the moment, and local news outlets are reporting authorities and volunteers, including residents in surrounding neighborhoods, were still trying to contain the fire as of Tuesday.
“As I speak the fire is still on but we are working around the clock but we haven’t been able to put it out, despite the increase in the number of personnel,” Shelutete told The Citizen.
Another official from the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA), Angella Nyaki, also told reporters on Monday that the fire – which has so far ravaged many acres of moorlands – quickly spread due to strong winds.
“The problem is that the fire was huge causing a large area to be burnt due to the strong winds but we are doing our best to limit its spread,” Nyaki said.
With its summit about 4,900 meters (16,100 ft) from its base and 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level, Mount Kilimanjaro is among Africa’s leading tourist attractions, receiving an estimated average of 50,000 visitors each year.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Shelutete said initial investigations into the cause of the fire revealed it was started accidentally by porters who were warming up food at the Whona rest area after the fire they set lit up dry grass and shrubs, VOA reports.
Sources who have worked with KINAPA also told The Citizen previous fire outbreaks on the mountain were usually as a result of smoking and poaching activities.