, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – One hundred and twenty officers and their families were rendered homeless on Monday, after a fire razed their houses at the Administration Police camp in Nairobi’s Community area.
Administration Police Commandant Kinuthia Mbugua said more than 500 people were affected by the inferno but no casualties were reported.
“This includes the 120 officers and their families who reside at the wooden houses,” he told reporters.
Monday’s incident was the second in four years.
In 2005, fire destroyed the houses but they were rebuilt later before the officers moved in.
Witnesses told Capital News that Monday’s blaze started from one of the houses and quickly spread to adjacent ones.
“I heard a loud explosion which was immediately followed by a huge cloud of smoke. That is how the fire started,” Richard Mwendwa, who runs a food kiosk nearby said.
Mr Mbugua said property in most of the houses was salvaged by officers from the Prisons Headquarters that is located near the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) headquarters.
“Many of the officers whose houses were burnt were on duty, only a few were present. Prisons officers played a big role in saving property because they broke into many of the houses,” the AP boss said.
Mr Mbugua said files and other documents at a store belonging to the Registrar of Persons were also destroyed.
The grounds were initially occupied by a number of staff from the Registrar of Persons before they re-located four years ago but they left one store intact.
“It is a disaster and a big loss to us,” Mr Mbugua said and declined to comment on reports that the Administration Police armoury was destroyed.
An Administration Police officer who requested anonymity told Capital News that an armoury in one of the blocks was damaged but said arms and ammunition were salvaged.
“They (arms and ammunition) were among the first things that were salvaged from the armoury,” he said without giving further details.
Other witnesses interviewed blamed slow action by fire-fighters from the city council and other private firms for the massive damage caused.
“They ran out of water and even ended up being spectators instead of fighting the fire. It took them up to four hours to contain the fire because they had to wait for water tanks to refill the engines,” Mercy Mwaura who was at the scene said.