, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – A large section of the Jua Kali open air market in Nairobi’s Muthurwa area was burnt down on Monday afternoon.
Witnesses said the fire started shortly after 2pm and is believed to have been caused by highly inflammable paint and other materials in one of the stalls there.
There were conflicting reports on the exact cause of the fire as others blamed it on an explosion from a stove.
“We strongly believe it was caused by one of the people who was cooking in his house because there are people who live in shanties here,” one kiosk owner said.
“We just saw smoke which was quickly followed by a massive fire. We only managed to salvage a few properties,” Eric Omondi, a casual labourer at the market said.
The fire caused a massive traffic snarl up, forcing police to close Landhies Road to motorists on both sides of the dual carriage way for several hours.
Kiosk owners who managed to salvage their property threw them on the highway, making the road impassable.
“I am lucky to have survived because when the fire started there was thick smoke all over and you could not even see where you are going. I just realised I am on the road,” another worker there said.
Police said there were no immediate reports of any major injuries from the fire.
Some of the workers sustained what police described as “minor injuries” from spiky iron-sheets as they rushed to safety.
The Secretary General of the Kamukunji Jua Kali Association Fredrick Dawa placed the value of the destroyed property at approximately Sh5 million.
“That is just an estimate, I believe the value could be higher and that is why we are asking the government and other humanitarian organisations to move in and assist them,” Dawa said.
Those interviewed at the scene said most of their property was salvaged by fire fighters who arrived on time.
“The fire people usually go to scenes late but this time round they really tried. They were here just in time and you see what they have done,” said Michael Njoroge who sells metal boxes.