KENYA – Fire that engulfed approximately 300 hectares of Mt Kenya forest during the last three days has finally been extinguished.
This comes days after the Kenya Forest Services (KFS) issued a fire alert owing to the prolonged dry spell that is being experienced countrywide.
However, Meru eco-system conservationist Samuel Mukundi said the fire did not affect the indigenous forest. Rather, it consumed the moorlands in Marania area.
He said the fire started on Friday afternoon.
“We suspect the fire was started by some honey gatherers but we have prevented the fire from getting to the trees. Much of the heaths, moorland grasses and shrubs having been consumed but can re-germinate very fast when the rains falls,” he said.
He said the State agency workers and the community Forest association members have worked day and night to ensure it was put off.
More than 200 people were deployed to help put of the fire. Showers that fell later yesterday helped put off the inferno.
Loss of forest cover
Last year, 7,000 hectares of forest was engulfed by raging fire in both the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests between January and March.
The two forests are among major water towers for both rural and urban centres in the country.
It is said that most forest fires are occasioned by illegal activities by honey gatherers, residents fetching firewood and herders grazing animals.
In Nyeri, eco-system conservationist Muchiri Mathinji said two forest blocks have been given special attention and surveillance including Nanyuki, Gathiuru, Naromoru, Kabaru in the Mt Kenya block and South Laikipia and Bellevue in the Aberdare block.
The KFS has also issued a warning on fires near and inside forests as it rolls out countermeasures to wild fires.
“We urge people to be very cautious. Any form of burning should be authorised first because the fire danger rating is very high. But we are prepared to battle any form of fire,” said Mr Mathinji.
The public has also been urged to remain vigilant and report any possible forest fire threats and outbreaks to the KFS offices by dialling the hotline number 020 250 2508.