A fire lit to warm food for tourists may have sparked a blaze on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, according to local reports.
Hundreds of firefighters, residents and students in the area have been involved in trying to put out the fire which began on Sunday afternoon.
Pascal Shelutete, of the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA), told Mwananchi, a local newspaper: “It seems the fire that was lit to prepare food for the tourists torched the dry vegetation in the area and spread quickly.”
The altitude of the fire, as well as the dry weather and strong winds, have made it difficult to contain – however, authorities have said the winds have now settled.
Mr Shelutete said: “The fire is now under control and we are ensuring that climbing activities are not affected.”
The College of African Wildlife Management, which is based near the mountain, sent 264 of its students to help in the efforts to extinguish the blaze.
Alex Kisingo, deputy head of the college, said: “The fire could have been contained earlier but the mountainous fire is very tricky.”
TANAPA tweeted several images showing the efforts being made and some of the damage that has been caused.
Authorities said the fire originated in the Whona area – a rest centre for climbers following the Mandara and Horombo routes.
When the fire broke out, people said flames could be seen from the town of Moshi, which is about 19 miles (30km) away from the mountain and known as a gateway to Kilimanjaro National Park.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in Africa, and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, at nearly 6,000m (20,000ft) above sea level.
An estimated 50,000 tourists climb the mountain annually.
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