Mount Kilimanjaro fire 'under control'
Human activity to blame for start of blaze: Tanzanian official
Published: Oct 24, 2022 10:47 PM
Tanzanian authorities said on Sunday a fire on Mount Kilimanjaro was 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 meters altitude on its south side.

"The situation is generally under control and we believe it will be completely tackled as time goes," said a statement from the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Pindi Chana.

Earlier Sunday evening, a ministry statement had said that the situation had "to a large extent" been extinguished.

Local official Nurdin Babu told reporters "everything is under control... we have managed to control the fire to a great extent."

The blaze left no victims in the tourist hot spot and UNESCO World Heritage site in northeastern Tanzania, where tens of thousands of climbers flock each year to conquer its snow-capped peak.

Hundreds of people including firefighters, national park staff and civilians were mobilized to fight the flames that were fanned by a strong wind.

Social media footage on Saturday showed huge flames consuming vegetation and bushes and giving off grey smoke.

The cause remains unknown but Eliamani Sedoyeka from the Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry on Saturday said a climber or honey hunters may have started it "carelessly."

Herman Batiho, an official at the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), said he was "sure" human activity was to blame through illegal poaching or locals extracting honey.

Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa's highest summit at 5,895 meters.

The fire came exactly two years after another blaze, which raged for a week in October 2020 across 95 square kilometers.

A plane transporting local officials and leading members of the TANAPA 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," Babu told journalists. "We will try again when the situation improves."

The chief of the region's police, Yahaya Mdogo, said on Saturday they were focusing on getting the fire under control and could not yet say how big it was or what impact it was having on the population. But videos posted on social media appeared to show the flames devouring vegetation and giving off thick clouds of grey smoke.

Police, firefighters, students from the local university and even staff from tour operators were working hard to bring the blaze under control, TANAPA said in a brief statement.

Mount Kilimanjaro, with its snow-capped peak, is known around the world.

The forests surrounding it form part of a national park, and Kilimanjaro National Parks is registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, in part because many endangered species live there.