Weather complicates Kili firefighting push

16Oct 2020
The Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Weather complicates Kili firefighting push

STRONG winds and dry weather have made it difficult for firefighters and volunteers working round the clock to put out the fire raging on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Natural Resources and Tourism minister Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla said in a tweet yesterday that weather conditions in the area fuel the fire, complicating ongoing efforts to put it down.

“The work is difficult than we earlier anticipated,” he wrote, elaborating that despite the challenges, the team was doing everything possible to contain the blaze which started last Sunday.

Efforts were made to bring in more sophisticated firefighting equipment, he said, noting that if all goes well, the ministry would bring to the site by late yesterday helicopters and planes assembled for the current emergency.

On Wednesday, the minister directed the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to boost its capacity to contain the fire by acquiring relevant equipment.

The directive came after it emerged that the equipment used to extinguish the fire was outdated and not convenient for the environment, hence taking too long to achieve the goal.

Copters and planes are used in firefighting when fitted with a helicopter bucket, a specialised container suspended on a cable to deliver water for aerial firefighting. Each bucket has a release valve on the bottom controlled by the helicopter crew.

The minister directed that TANAPA acquires the chopper in collaboration with the Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA), hinting that in preparing for the purchase of that equipment, the bodies take into account the tricky mountainous terrain involved.

Paschal Shelutete, Senior Assistant Commissioner in charge of communications at TANAPA said on Tuesday that initial investigations by security organs on the cause of fire indicated that potters warmed food and did not put out the smouldering fire completely.

The fire erupted at Wahona area, a resting camp for climbers using the Mandara and Horombo routes.

Kilimanjaro attracts about 50,000 climbers annually, the highest mountain in Africa and the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895 metres above sea level and about 4,900 metres above its plateau base.

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