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KFS battles fire in Aberdare Forest

Sunday February 25 2018
Aberdare fire pic

An aerial view of a section of the Aberdare Forest that was on fire on February 25, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY

By IRENE MUGO

A section of the Aberdare Forest has been destroyed by fire just three weeks after another inferno destroyed 300 hectares of Mt Kenya Forest.

Nyeri eco-system conservationist Muchiri Mathinji on Sunday said Kenya Forest Service rangers and the community at Bellevue in the county were on the ground battling the fire.

FIRE

He said the fire started 5pm on Saturday.

“During an aerial view conducted by my team in the morning, we established that the fire had consumed the moorlands, heaths and shrubs and a little of the bamboo area,” he said.

Mr Mathinji said they could not immediately identify the cause of the fire.

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The Kenya Forest Service is battling the fire with help from the Kenya Wildlife Service and Community Forest Association.

About 100 people were mobilised to help put out the fire.

They, however, suspended operations on Sunday evening and said they would continue battling the fire on Monday morning.

FORESTS

Last year, 7, 000 hectares of forest was consumed by ranging fire in both the Aberdare and Mt Kenya forests between January and March.

The two forests are among the major water towers in the country.

It is said 99 per cent of forest fires are started by illegal activities in the forest by honey gatherers, residents fetching firewood and herders grazing their animals.

Two forest blocs have been given special attention and surveillance by the Kenya Forest Service – Nanyuki, Gathiuru, Naromoru, Kabaru in the Mt Kenya bloc and South Laikipia and Bellevue in the Aberdare bloc.

WARNING

The KFS has also warned against lighting fires near or inside the forest as this could contribute 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 forest fire threats and outbreaks to the KFS offices by dialling the hotline number 020 250 2508.

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