In Summary
  • Disaster management teams say they are overwhelmed by the frequent fires.

At least one fire incident is reported every other day in Nyeri as the county grapples with a wave of infernos that have overwhelmed residents and security officials.

Data from the Kenya Red Cross Society indicates that 25 fire incidents that left seven people dead were reported in Nyeri in the last one month.

FIRES

According to preliminary police findings, the fires have been linked to suicide, arson, illegal power connections and mishandling of household fire sources.

Fires as a result of carelessness are the most rampant.

In the most recent cases, three people died in two separate fires in Marua and Kirichu areas on the outskirts of Nyeri Town.

Although the two fires occurred at different times and close to 10 kilometres apart, they are suspected to have been suicide cases.

SUICIDES?

In the first incident, a 49-year-old woman and her teenage daughter died on Saturday night after fire gutted their home at Marua.

Ms Mary Najamiu and her 15-year-old daughter Eva Mumbi were sleeping in their three-roomed house when the fire broke out at around midnight. The daughter was supposed to join form one at House of Hope School in Machakos County this week.

Locals say that the woman, who had been living alone with her daughter, had been sick for a while and had lost the ability to walk.

It is for this reason that the residents suspect that the woman decided to take her own life.

The second incident was reported at Kirichu Village on Sunday afternoon, where a 70-year-old woman is said to have set herself on fire over a family feud.

The woman, identified as Grace Wacheke Nderitu, was spotted at her father’s grave threatening to end her life.

BLAME GAMES

Authorities and disaster management organisations have been left in a dilemma on how to tackle these occurrences.

Blame games have emerged with humanitarian agencies and security organs accusing the county government for slow and uncoordinated responses.

Red Cross central regional manager Gitonga Mugambi said the situation is worrying and needs to be addressed immediately as response teams are already overstretched.

“I am raising alarm as the loss of lives and property is too high. We need to conduct a vulnerability capacity assessment to establish the cause instead of blaming this on individual carelessness in handling fire utilities in their house,” Mr Mugambi said.

Nevertheless the Red Cross boss noted that in most cases there is a sense of negligence or human error involved.

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