Alarm as fires sweep through ten forests countrywide

Locals using twigs to put off a fire at Menengai forest in Nakuru on January 31, 2019. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
An alarm has been raised over suspicious fire incidents that have been reported in at least ten national forests in the past four days.

Police have been called to investigate how the fires broke out concurrently at the facilities destroying property.

Since Thursday, Kenya Forest Service has been fighting to contain the spread of the fires in different forests, which is threatening the ecosystem of the places.

“Some of the fire incidents seem to have been started intentionally. We also do not know how they started differently but at the same time.

The incidents were reported in Menengai forest in Nakuru, Arabuko Sokoke in Kilifi, Sorget, Londiani in Kedowa in Kericho, Lelani in West Pokot, Mt Elgon, Olrabel in Baringo, Kiptogot, Kaboswa in Ndoinet in Bomet, Olposimoru forest in Narok, Narasha in Baringo, Eburu in Nakuru and Sabatia in Baringo.

A brief report seen by the Standard on the incidents suggest almost all of them were started by arsonists.

The ministry of environment has now sought the help from the county commissioners in coordinating the efforts to contain the incidents.

Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko wrote to his interior counterpart Fred Matiang’i asking for his help in mobilizing efforts to contain the spread.

“I write therefore to request that you issue similar directive to all Regional Commissioners across the country,” said Tobiko in his letter to Matiang’i dated January 31

Other officials said police had been directed in the affected areas to launch investigations into the incidents.

KFS said in a statement the current dry spell in most parts of the country marks the beginning of the first of the two fire seasons experienced in Kenya.

“The dry seasons of January to March and August to September are characterized by high temperatures and therefore low humidity which makes forests and other vegetation dry up and be highly susceptible to fire outbreaks,” said KFS in a statement.

The service appealed to those bordering forests including community forest associations for be on the lookout and report any fire occurrence.

“Members of the public are requested to desist from any activities that could trigger forest fires including charcoal burning, harvesting of honey, burning litter and clearing farmland through burning, camp fires, dropping lit cigarette butts and any other that may trigger fire,” said KFS.

Tobiko visited some of the affected areas as part of efforts to contain the spread.

We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.

Forest firesKenya Forest ServiceKeriako TobikoFred Matiang’i