Slum fire leaves scores homeless

January 5, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 5 – Scores of people were left homeless on Monday, after a fire swept across a slum in Nairobi’s Embakasi area.

The 6am fire at the Mukuru kwa Njenga slum is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault.

Affected Residents interviewed by Capital News recounted their ordeal.         

 "I came out of my house with nothing.  I did not salvage anything from the fire," Mr Abdi Omar a resident said and added:  The fire fighters came after 40 minutes when our houses had already gone up in flames."

Mr Adan Alio who is the chairman of the mosque in the slum said that the tragedy had led to a loss of property.

"However, there is no one who has been seriously injured," He stated with a sigh of relief.

Mr Alio also decried the delay by fire fighters to reach the scene of the fire on time.

He said that the firemen’s delayed response caused the residents to lose more property which could have been salvaged.

He called on the government to establish fire stations next to slums so that any fire occurrences are dealt with on time.

"We want the government to set up fire fighters offices near slum areas. All the other government departments have offices in such areas and doing similarly for firemen would be advantageous," Mr Alio said.

Embakasi divisional police chief Charles Bunei blamed the incident on illegal power connections.

Mr Bunei called on the residents of the slum to desist from tapping electricity from the main power lines so as to uphold safety.

"The issue of tapping electricity is what has brought this problem. It is good that we have not lost any lives in this fire," he observed adding, "There was someone who was heating water using an electrical heater which resulted in a short circuit which led to the fire."

In 1998, at least 24 teenage girls at a boarding school north of the port of Mombasa were killed by a fire which is believed to have been due to an electrical fault.

The fire swept through a dormitory building at Bombululu Secondary School, near Mazeras during the night.

Some of the girls were killed in a stampede as they tried to escape through two narrow doors, witnesses said. Others died when the wooden roof collapsed.

At dawn, a skeleton of blackened bricks was all that remained of the dormitory.


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