The flames engulfing a section of the upper reaches of the mountain, within Kilimanjaro National Park started Sunday afternoon and authorities have been working to contain it.
Paschal Shelutete Assistant Commissioner (Communications) at the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), said in a statement that TANAPA has continued taking all precautions to ensure the safety of visitors and their properties, seeking to extinguish the fire without causing harm to on-going tourism activities.
Prof Jafari Kideghesho, the Rector of the CAWM-Mweka campus, declared that the firefighters deployed include students and servants, as an urgent effort to save the mountain’s biodiversity.
The college relies on the mountain zone as its teaching laboratory, thus having to move to support efforts to contain the flames, he elaborated.
“We are among the crucial stakeholders of the mountain, we frequently use it for practical training; we could not stand aside while one of the major climbing destinations is destroyed by fire,” said the college principal. He had also provided four vehicles to facilitate transportation of food, water and other requirements to those combating the fire outbreak, he elaborated.
The last time a fire broke out on Mt Kilimanjaro was in 2013, with the current outbreak springing from the Wahona area, a resting centre for mountain climbers and visitors passing using the Mandara and Horombo routes to reach the mountain top at Kibo Peak, he said.
A range of old and younger indigenous trees have been destroyed in the burning, while police were as yet unable to identify the source of the fire.
“Efforts are ongoing to put off the fire at the Wahona-Horombo area. We have a good number of firefighters from the Fire and Rescue Force, CAWM-Mweka students and villagers surrounding the Kilimanjaro National Park,” the TANAPA official noted.
Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Dr Anna Mghwira said authorities are working to use a helicopter that will deliver water for aerial firefighting”
Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak, at nearly 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) above sea level, having three volcanic cones—Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira, while being the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.