Tanzania deploys 500 firefighters against Kilimanjaro blaze

DAR ES SALAAM (AFP) – Tanzania has deployed 500 firefighters to fight an inferno on the slopes of Africa’s highest mountain Kilimanjaro which was under control on its third day, the national parks authority said on Tuesday.

The fire was spotted on Sunday afternoon at the Whona area, a rest centre for climbers using Mandara and Horombo, two of the several routes up the mountain which rises 5,895 metres above sea level.

“To a large extent, the fire is now under control, especially in vulnerable areas in which it could easily spread,” Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) spokesman Paschal Shelutete said.

“We have also taken all necessary precautions to ensure that all visitors and their equipment are not affected,” he said.

The affected area is about 28 square kilometres so far, TANAPA Director General Allan Kijazi said in a short video posted on social media.

“I hope we will completely contain the fire in the evening or by tomorrow,” he added.

Hundreds of volunteers, residents and students were mobilised to fight the fire.

The flames could be seen from the nearby town of Moshi.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the fire was caused by porters accompanying mountaineers.

A ranger helps to put out fires on Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. PHOTO: AP