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Bamboo zone serves to fan Mt Kenya fire

BUSIA
By | March 19th 2012

By JOSEPH MUCHIRI

A fire ravaging Mt Kenya forest has destroyed between 600 and 800 hectares of the vegetation in Chuka and Chogoria.

Head of Eastern Forest Conservancy, Samuel Ihure said the fire, which started four days ago escalated after spreading to the bamboo zone.

Ihure said the bamboo trees, usually very close to each other, have made it difficult for the fire fighters to create firebreaks.

"The fire is spreading very fast and the bamboo trees explode due to the heat scaring away fire fighters," he said.

He pointed out that dry trees on the ground are very flammable, providing good fuel for the fire to spread.

Ihure observed that bamboos have in the past been the cause of fast fires saying that policies should be put in place to exploit them for economic value.

"We don’t harvest bamboo trees, although they can be of great economic value to the state if they are sold, instead of being lost through fires and destroying other environmental resources," he said.

Ihure blamed poachers of small animals for the raging fire that continues to consume thousands of hectares of the forest.

The forestry officer underscored the need for the country to invest in helicopters which carry water or fire fighting liquid like is the case in Australia and other developed nations saying that lack of such technology in the country is a time bomb.

He however noted that all is not lost, as the burnt plantations will regenerate after the rains and the forest will get back to the way it was.

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