Two weeks after a fire began on Africa’s tallest and most famous mountain, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa says it has been largely contained.
On Tuesday, hundreds of soldiers and two helicopters were mobilised to reinforce civilian firefighters and volunteers battling the blaze on Mount Kilimanjaro
Last week, the government week thought the fire was under control, but winds spread it to three other places. It has ravaged about 33 square kilometres in the Kilimanjaro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site which is home to many endangered species.
The fire started on 21 October near the Karanga site, used by climbers ascending the famous peak, at about 4,000 metres altitude on the mountain’s south side.
Tourism not affected
Although it is an area that is popular with tourists, the government says tourism has not been affected and no injuries or deaths have been reported.
A Polish tourist who was visiting the region says being so close to the fire was a devastating experience.
‘Because we could feel the fire is either following us or is right next to us, because we could still breathe and feel the smoke. And breathing was really, really hard and we could see the devastated nature all around us. So, it was really hard experience for us, to see that and to be right next to it,’ she said.
As firefighters and soldiers continue to battle multiple fires in some areas around the mountain, officials say they have not yet established how it started.
The blaze comes exactly two years after a devastating week-long fire destroyed some 95 square kilometres on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.