Tanzanian authorities have mobilised more than 600 firefighters to put out a fire on Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, an official said in Dar-Es-Salaam on Sunday.
Nurdin Babu, the Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, told Xinhua in a telephone interview that the firefighters have been drawn from the Tanzania Fire and Rescue Force, the Tanzania National Parks, police, scouts, members of the militia and the private sector.
The fire broke out on Friday night at about 4,000 meters altitude on the south side of the mountain and was quickly spread by strong winds, said Babu.
“We are hoping that the fire will be contained by tonight by the 600-plus strong team of firefighters,” Babu said
The commissioner added that the cause of the fire and the damage caused were yet to be established.
He said that initially there were plans to request the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces (TPDF) to help in fighting the fire but the plans were dropped after reports indicated that there was good progress in putting out the fire.
On Saturday afternoon, Babu said he flew over the mountain with a team of experts for an aerial survey to assess the damage caused by the fire but the mission was cut short due to heavy smoke and bad weather.
“We made another attempt on Saturday night and managed to see affected areas,” he said, adding that there were no reported casualties.
In October 2020, a fire broke out on the mountain and destroyed 95.5 square kilometres of vegetation and 12 huts, two toilets and solar equipment used by tourists climbing the mountain.
Mount Kilimanjaro, with its snow-capped peak of about 5,895 meters above sea level, is one of Tanzania’s leading tourist destinations.
Roughly 50,000 trekkers from across the world attempt to reach the summit of the mountain annually.