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FIRE INCIDENT IN MUKURU SLUM

Two storey building was burnt down in an early morning fire next to the Ruben Centre. The cause of the fire was not established but the residents suspected the fire was caused by an electric fault.

 It took the combined efforts of the locals to help put out the fire with any water they could find and even destroying nearby houses that had not yet caught fire so as to lessen the amount of destruction but with little success due to lack of enough water in the Slums.Br. Frank the director of Ruben Centre helped pumping water from Ruben Centre to the slum to help the residents put out the fire.

   Ruben FM in conjunction with the community played a big role in communicating the incident as well as reaching out to the fire disaster management team to help in managing the incident. They responded with haste and for the residents of Mukuru this was the first time in history when the fire brigade responded to a fire incident so efficiently and in time. Three trucks came to the rescue of the residents and they finally managed to contain the fire from spreading and causing more damage.

   Luckily there were no casualties in the fire except for minor cut injuries as two young men got cuts in the process. The owner of the building which was the Centre of the fire could not stand watching the fire razing her house mercilessly. The middle-aged woman owner of the house collapsed probably in shock and was rushed to Ruben Medical clinic where she was taken care off. The three hours fire left sixteen houses burnt to ashes and some residents homeless.

  Fire tragedies are not new in the informal settlements. Recently we had another fire in Mukuru Kwa Njenga which left hundreds of residents homeless. The worst fire tragedy reported in Mukuru was the 2011 Sinai Fire that caused over 100 fatalities and leaving 116 people hospitalized with serious burns.

   The tragic fires often emerge at wee hours either when the majority of residents are off to work or when they are at home, asleep. It is difficult to know exactly what causes these fires because majority of the occupants give false information for fear of accounting for damage caused to neighboring properties. According to the National Disaster Operations Centre Nairobi has seen an increase in the rate of fires subject to factors such as drought, as well as dry and windy conditions which exacerbate the frequency of fires in urban settings.

In addition, lack of, or limited, water makes it difficult to put fire out. Other causes of fires in the slums are electrical faults, cooking equipment, cigarettes, domestic violence, children playing and improvised lanterns have been majorly cited as the main causes of fire outbreaks. "Illegal tapping of electricity and loose connections, and use of adulterated fuel in their paraffin stoves are the leading causes of infernos in the slums.

In conclusion, it is perceived that most cases of electrical faulted fire outbreaks in the Slums will reduce in the near future since the installation of the legal electricity connections that the government has enforced in the slums. Cases of illegal connections are subsiding but still the threat paused to human life even with the new developments is huge since most of the high voltage electrical cables are connected slightly above the iron houses where people live.

By: Margaret Kariuki 

Public Relations Officer