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Traders count losses as fire guts stalls

Property worth millions was on Sunday destroyed in a fire at Kawangare Market in Nairobi.

More than 30 stalls and shops were destroyed during the 4pm incident.

Furious traders demanded compensation from Kenya Power, saying a transformer belonging to the company burst and caused the inferno.

Witnesses said they heard a loud bang from the transformer, which had been repaired by Kenya Power staff a few minutes earlier.

This was followed by a fire that spread fast to stalls stocking electronic goods, cereals and clothing. Several eateries were also razed.

However, no one was injured during the incident.

“I heard a loud bang and ran away, only to see fire spreading through electric wires and lighting the stalls,” said Mr Samuel Kimani, a resident.

The traders and neighbours immediately began fighting the huge blaze with bucketfuls of water. They were, however, overwhelmed by the fire, leading to loss of goods worth millions.

Electronic gadgets

“I stocked my shop in January with electronic gadgets worth Sh2 million and I have not salvaged anything,” said a distraught Mr Joseph Warutere.

His colleague, Mr Peter Migwi, said he lost similar stock worth Sh1.2 million in the inferno, which was also fought by two fire engines from the Nairobi county government.

Mr Warutere blamed Kenya Power for negligence, saying the transformer has had problems for the last two years. It burst into flames on several occasions but the company failed to instal a new one, he added.

Mr Warutere said that the transformer was seen smouldering since Saturday and the traders called the power company, which sent technicians to work on it.

“They told us to stay away from the equipment but in the afternoon (yesterday), it developed problems and we called them again,” said Mr Warutere.

But 10 minutes after the technicians finished repairing the transformer, it burst, sending oil and flames to the stalls.
Residents also blamed the fire brigade for responding late to the fire.

They said the two fire engines arrived when a lot of damage had occurred.