NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 27 – There was panic in Nairobi on Wednesday when a small fire broke out at the 20 storey-Lonrho House located on Standard Street, prompting the building management to order an evacuation.
The fire started shortly before 1pm at Pasara, an up market restaurant located in the building’s ground floor.
Police and the building management confirmed that no casualties were reported as a result of the inferno which was thought to have been caused by an electric fault.
There had been a power outage in the building for most of the morning before it resumed, followed by the fire.
“I was meeting friends in the restaurant, then I heard a loud blast. The immediate thing that came to my mind was Al Shabaab because of the recent grenade attacks around our country,” said Rob Jillo, Capital FM’s Special Projects Editor.
“My friends and I immediately fled. There was a mini stampede in the restaurant because it was now everyone for himself,” Jillo added.
Nearly a dozen customers who were at Pasara at the time are reported to have taken off without paying their bills, due to the confusion.
“We had a difficult time, most of us fled after the blast even our customers fled but some came back later and paid their bills, we are sure most of them will come back and pay because they are known to us,” one waitress at the restaurant said.
The fire started at a mezannine kitchen where cakes are baked.
Capital FM staff was among hundreds of people who streamed out of the building when the evacuation was ordered.
The fire was put out within minutes but it took nearly two hours for staff and tenants at the building to be allowed back in.
The Kenya Power response team arrived at the scene just as the fire brigade battled the blaze out and went straight to the restaurant.
The building was later declared safe for occupancy, prompting staff to stream back.
““Radio active with DJ JOE MFALME……..and we are back. Fire has been contained,” Kate Karongo of Capital FM wrote on her Twitter handle @kittiekatk.
Another staff at Capital FM Laban Wanambisi wrote on his @Lwanambisi Twitter handle “And we have been allowed back into the Building! Lonrho Hse declared safe.”
The 20-storey skycrapper owned by the Kenya Commercial Bank Pension Scheme houses Capital FM on 19th floor as well as other tenants like KPMG, KCB pension scheme and several respected law firms among others.