, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – The Nairobi Fire Brigade now says low pressure at a fire hydrant caused delay in putting out a blaze at Kimathi House that took several hours to battle on Sunday.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Ngugi told Capital FM news that they had to use alternative means to get water since their equipment could not be fed using the hydrant.
He said no lives were lost in the incident but business owners are currently counting their losses as they sift through the rubble.
“Right outside Kimathi House there is a fire hydrant which had water but the pressure was too low. That water could not even be able to help us and it could not even feed any of the appliances,” he said.
“We had to commence water shuttle relay because it could not be possible for us to get water from the hydrant,” he stated.
“Surely the issue of hydrants leaves a lot to be desired because it appears most of them are being damaged even by private vendors and it takes time for the Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company to repair them because they fall under their docket,” he explained.
He also pointed out that lack of smoke and fire detectors at Kimathi House contributed to the spread of the inferno which extensively damaged three floors in the building.
Ngugi stated that by the time the fire was reported, huge flames were coming out of the widows of the building.
“The guard rushed to the fire station only after noticing that the flames had already engulfed the entire building emerging out of the window and it was surely a big inferno at that time,” he said.
He said that had there been such detectors, the fire would not have caused much destruction.
“If those facilities were functional, they would have noted and then they would have summoned the fire brigade.”
The blaze took over two hours to contain but flared up again at about 2am before it was effectively contained.
The fire started shortly before 8pm and by 8.30pm, there was little effort made to contain it since fire engines that rushed to the scene, were not properly equipped to reach the 6th and 7th floors. The fire appeared to be contained at about 10pm but flared up again damaging the 8th floor.
The owner of the building who identified himself only as Mutuma was among people who rushed to the scene but refused to talk to journalists.
It took concerted efforts of G4S, KK Security Guards and the National Youth Service to put out the fire that was finally contained shortly before 10pm.
Members of the public at the scene took issue with the City Council of Nairobi due to the slow response by their firefighters.