Tanzania deploys army to fight Kilimanjaro fires

Alfred Lasteck - BBC News, Dar es Salaam

Tanzania’s army has deployed hundreds of troops to help firefighters who have been battling fires on Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, for close to two weeks now.

Army officials say the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) will co-operate with other agencies and volunteers to ensure the fire is controlled before it causes more damage to vegetation on the mountain.

“Officers and men of TPDF have already arrived in Siha and Mweka areas in Kilimanjaro Region ready to fight the fire,” a statement by the TPDF says.

A BBC team on the slopes of the mountain witnessed some of the soldiers arriving at the two entry points to the mountain on Tuesday.

A series of wildfires have been breaking out in different areas on the mountain, after an initial fire started near a camp along a popular hiking route on 21 October.

Hundreds of people, including firefighters, national park staff, tour guides and civilians, have been battling to put out the fires with little success.

The cause of the fires is not known yet but the government says human activities are most likely to blame.

The government says a prolonged drought, layers of decaying organic material and strong wind are part of the reasons the fire has been hard to control.

Two years ago, a week-long inferno destroyed thousands of hectares of woodland on the mountain’s slopes.

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