Firefighters tackle blaze on Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro


Police and locals help firefighters attempt to put out fire that was spread by strong winds overnight

Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday that a fire on Mount Kilimanjaro was mostly under control after flames burned Africa’s tallest mountain for more than 24 hours.

The blaze began on Friday evening near the Karanga site used by climbers ascending the famous peak, at about 4,000 metres altitude on its south side.

“We have seen great success in controlling the fire. To a large extent, it’s already extinguished in most areas although there are still smokes,” said Eliamani Sedoyeka, an official at the natural resources and tourism ministry.

Mount Kilimanjaro, situated in the north-east of the country, is Africa’s highest summit at 5,895 metres (19,340ft).

Officials have not yet established how the fire started, but it comes two years after a blaze raged for a week in October 2020 across 95 sq km (37 sq miles).

The fire started on Friday evening and was spread by strong winds during the night, said regional officials. They could not yet say how much ground it covered.

A plane transporting local officials and leading members of the Tanzania National Parks Authority for a visit to evaluate the situation was unable to land on Saturday.

“Large clouds and the smoke prevented us from reaching the fire zone,” the prefect of Kilimanjaro, Nurdin Babu, told journalists. “We will try again when the situation improves.”

Video posted on social media appeared to show the flames devouring vegetation and giving off thick clouds of grey smoke. Three hundred people, including police, firefighters, university students and staff from tour operators, were working hard to bring the blaze under control, the parks authority said in a statement.

The cause remains unknown but Sedoyeka said on Saturday that a climber or honey hunters may have started it “carelessly”.

Herman Batiho, an official at Tanzania’s national parks authority, said he was “sure” human activity was to blame through illegal poaching or locals extracting honey.

Mount Kilimanjaro, with its snow-capped peak, is known around the world. The forests surrounding it form part of Kilimanjaro National Parks, which is registered by Unesco as a world heritage site, a habitat for many endangered species.

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