A Wildfire Has Burned at Least 13 Miles of Mt. Kilimanjaro

clouds of smoke from a fire on Kilimanjaro

More than 500 volunteer firefighters are battling a wildfire on Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

The fire started on Sunday and has since burned more than 13 square miles of land, according to The Associated Press. Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) announced in a tweet Wednesday morning that the fire was “under control and there is no harm to the guests.”

Tanapa believes that the fire was likely started by porters who assist climbers up the challenging mountain. They were at a rest stop called Whona.

“There could be more to this fire but preliminary evidence points to Whona where visitors were warming their food,” Tanapa communication official Pascal Shelutete said at a press conference, The Citizen, Tanzania's English news site, reported. “As you know, this is a dry season and fire spreads very fast.”

The fire had been contained earlier in the week but once again erupted Wednesday on an area of Mount Kilimanjaro known as Kifunika Hill. Tanzania National Parks said that the fire spread to 12 homes, two bathroom facilities, and two solar panels.

The fire is about halfway up the mountain — from about 8,850 to 12,100 feet up, according to The Citizen — and can be seen from miles away.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, with a height of 19,443 feet. This fire could become one of the largest ever reported at the popular attraction on the border of Kenya and Tanzania.

Although the fire is likely to impact flora and fauna on the mountain, ecologists believe it is unlikely that any endemic species will be wiped out completely, due to the fire’s location on the mountain. However, some are concerned about the increasing frequency of wildfires on Mount Kilimanjaro.

It "is a warning sign that we need to take urgent and effective measures to control fires," Frank Luvenda, executive secretary of the Tanzania Environment Agency, told DW.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. When in a new city, she's usually out to discover under-the-radar art, culture, and secondhand stores. No matter her location, you can find her on Twitter, on Instagram or at caileyrizzo.com.

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