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Elephants flee as fire burns on Mount Kenya slopes

By Tom Odula and Jason Straziuso

Associated Press

Published: Monday, March 19 2012 10:58 p.m. MDT

NAIROBI, Kenya — A fire on the slopes of Kenya's tallest mountain is sending big game animals like elephants fleeing for their lives, as wildlife agents and British troops are fighting to put out several fires, officials said Monday.

The flames have already consumed hundreds of acres of forest on Mount Kenya, said Paul Udoto, a spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service. The fire has covered the spiky mountain in a haze of smoke.

Tourists staying in mountain lodges are safe, Udoto said, but elephants are among the many animals fleeing.

"The elephants fled the area but they are still within the protected areas of the mountain," Udoto said.

Firefighters said they haven't come across any animal hurt or killed by the fire.

Photos of the fire show small bursts of flame and thick white smoke hanging over the mountain's lower elevations. Mount Kenya is the second-highest peak in Africa, at 17,057 feet.

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