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4 in hospital after Kibera fire

NAIROBI, Kenya Feb 8 – Four people, including a child are admitted to the Kenyatta National Hospital after they were burnt while sleeping in their houses in Nairobi’s Kibera slum on Tuesday night.

Residents said the fire started at about 1 am and spread quickly, destroying property worth hundreds of thousands of shillings and rendering people homeless.

“As you can see 600 families are homeless, they do not have anywhere to call home now. All their belongings were destroyed by the inferno. But we are lucky because no life was lost,” a former councilor in the area popularly known as Opete Opete told Capital News at the scene.

“Those who sustained burns as a result of the fire are admitted to hospital, they include a young child but we have been told they are all out of danger,” he added.

Some of the residents interviewed said the fire started from a makeshift food kiosk and may have been fueled by illegal electrical power connections at Gatwekera area, one of the most densely populated area in the slum.

“I had traveled upcountry, and when I arrived people were shouting all over fire! fire! fire! we tried to put it out but it was spreading so fast. It started from a hotel,” Michael Ojuok, a computer technician in the area said.

Up to 200 makeshift houses were burnt in the inferno said to be the most destructive in recent times.

A survivor of the blaze Rose Akoth told Capital News she did not salvage any property but was lucky to have escaped unhurt with her children.

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“My house and stores were burnt, I have been operating a business and all my sewing machines were burnt down,” she said.  I don’t know how to recover the losses I have incurred.” Ms Akoth said.

She also lost a generator she purchased recently through a loan.

“I watched as my property was being burnt down, I could do nothing… even fire fighters who had come to put it out could not reach here,” she said.

Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi said fire fighters from the council were dispatched to put out the blaze but they could not access the area due to lack of roads.

"Fire engines could not access the area due to non availability of access roads,” the PPO said.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga who is the area MP visited the scene on Monday morning and assured residents he would return there in the afternoon to donate building materials to enable them re-build their houses.

“The Prime Minister was here, he has assured us of support, and he has assured of support,” the former councillor said.

When Capital News visited the area on Tuesday morning, survivors and victims were gathered in small groups conversing while others were busy trying to re-build their houses.

Cases of fire have been rampant in Nairobi since last week, with the latest being in Uhuru Market on Jogoo road where property worth million of shillings was destroyed on Sunday night.

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In Kiserian, a man was burnt to death when fire burnt 32 make-shift houses on Saturday.

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