More than 300 people have been mobilized to fight a fire on the slopes of Tanzania’s famous Mount Kilimanjaro, local officials said on Saturday, with police and locals helping firefighters.
The fire burned near the Karanga camp, used by mountaineers scaling the mountain, at about 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) on the south side of the mountain.
At 5,895 meters, Kilimanjaro in the northeast of the country is the highest peak in Africa.
Officials have not yet determined how the fire started, but it comes exactly two years after another blaze that raged 95 square kilometers (37 sq mi) for a week in October 2020.
No one was killed in that fire and on Saturday officials said the current fire had not threatened any of the tourists on the mountain. Kilimanjaro is popular with both hikers and climbers.
The fire broke out Friday night and was spread by strong winds during the night, regional officials said. They couldn’t yet tell how much ground it covered.
A plane carrying local officials and senior members of Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) to visit to assess the situation failed to land on Saturday.
“Big clouds and the smoke prevented us from reaching the fire zone,” Kilimanjaro Prefect Nurdin Babu told journalists. “We will try again when the situation improves.”
The region’s police chief, Yahaya Mdogo, said the focus was on bringing 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 to social media appeared to show the flames engulfing vegetation and emitting thick plumes of gray smoke.
Police, firefighters, students from the local university and even tour operators were working hard to bring the blaze under control, TANAPA said in a brief statement.
Kilimanjaro with its snow-capped peak is known all over the world.
The forests surrounding it are part of a national park, and Kilimanjaro National Park is registered as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, partly because it is home to many endangered species.