The recent fire tragedy at the Mradi area of Embakasi claimed three lives and injured over 300 Kenyans. However, it pales compared to the four fire tragedies ever witnessed in Kenya’s soil, at least by the number of deaths caused.
This list comprises different scenarios, road accident fires, school fires, mass-use commercial buildings on fire and slum residential area fires.
- Kyanguli Secondary School Arson
Of all school fires, the tragedy of Kyanguli Secondary school in 2001, united Kenyans in mourning. This school located in Mchakos was set ablaze by students, where one of the dormitories was razed to ashes when the fire was put off.
Sixty-three – 63 – male students lost their lives. A parent sued the school administration and got justice after 15 years.
- The Sinai Pipeline Sea of Fire
The residents of Sinai slums located near the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) suffered unimaginable anguish in the morning of 12 September 2011. As per reports, a failed gasket at a nearby fuel tank owned by the Kenya Pipeline Company had given in, releasing over 19 million cubic meters of fuel into an open storm drain that flowed right through Sinai. It was not the first time such a spillage had occurred and on cue, hundreds of residents rushed to scoop the fuel. What was different was that this time the fuel was petrol and not the diesel that leaked during previous times.
In the melee, a fire broke out claiming the lives of estimated over 100 people; another 100 were hospitalized as swathes of land remained without habitation due to the intense fire. It is a preventable tragedy that, owing to the laxity of city authorities, might happen again as no rightful measures were ever put to stop such an incident from happening. Most of the people in the slums were undocumented, owing to its illegal status and thus the true number of the dead, especially children may never be known.
3. Nakumatt Downtown LPG Gas fire
Exactly 15 years ago (Wednesday 28 January 2009), the Nakumatt Supermarket downtown branch, near Nation Center burbned down. Kenyan read in horror how the shoppers were locked in as the fire started to prevent them from leaving with already purchased goods.
The culprit was a leaking home cooking LPG gas tank that, those days, were also put inside the supermarket as goods for sale. Most of the dead, 29 in number were the shoppers who were on the first floor of the supermarket building. Investigations showed they could not access ground floor.
However, some that jumped from the upper floors managed to get away with their lives, some died, though. This fire changed the way LPG cooking gas is stocked in supermarkets in Kenya.
4. The Sanchang’wan Fuel Tanker Tragedy
When a fuel tanker rolls, Kenyans often rush to the scene to scoop whatever fuel there may be, cooking, petroleum, Jet-AI etc.
Most know the dangers, but biting poverty motivates them to do it, as the hope of getting a few shillings from their loot is better than sleeping hungry.
The incident of Sanchangwan in Molo in the Rift Valley was no different, but this time, more than 110 people lost their lives. The scene was a gory site with dead bodies strewn all over after the fuel they were siphoning from a rolled tanker caught fire. The fire was so big that it spread to a nearby forest burning cars, houses, livestock and anything it could get in its wake. People did not learn as a few months later, 45 people died in a fuel-siphoning rendezvous in the same rift valley. I still remember the front page of Nation Newspaper, ‘ Oh No, Not again!.
We pray for quick recovery of the victims of the Mradi, Embakasi fire.
Covering news about Eastlands especially Umoja, Kayole and Buruburu estates