Kenya: Queries as Third Fire Breaks Out at Musingu Boys in Less Than Two Years

15 October 2020

A 500 capacity dormitory at Musingu High School in Kakamega North sub-county was destroyed in a fire that broke out on Wednesday morning.

The first floor of "Oparanya hostel" that was funded by the County Government of Kakamega and named after Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, an alumnus of the school, is said to have caught fire as welders were repairing broken windows.

Schools reopening

The school has four dormitory blocks and Oparanya hostel accommodates 504 students.

At least 266 Form Four candidates who had reported back during the phased reopening were in school when the fire broke out.

This is the third incident of fire in the school in less than two years.

A similar incident was witnessed in November 2019 when Form Four candidates were sitting their KCSE exam. Another fire had happened three months earlier, in September the same year.

In the 2019 incident, former Kakamega Senator Dr Boni Khalwale, who visited the school, had asked the management to get to the root cause of the fires.

Various sources have claimed an electric fault was the major cause of the frequent fires at the school.

On Wednesday, Kakamega North Sub-County police officer in charge of operations Samuel Koskei said the cause of the fire is yet to be known.

"Smoke was seen billowing from Oparanya hostel at around 11 am and the school staff raised the alarm. We called the fire brigade from Kakamega which arrived 30 minutes later," said Mr Koskei

"Fortunately, the students were in class and, therefore, no life was lost, nor any injury suffered. We have launched investigations into the cause of the fire," he added.

Mr Maurice Mulama, a neighbour to the school, said repairs were being done on the windows when the fire erupted.

He asked why repairs are carried out in the school only when Form Four students are in school.

"Schools had closed for the last six months, why didn't the school principal carry out repairs within that period? We are getting worried about the results of our candidates again," said Mr Mulama.

Members of the local community, police and students attempted to contain the fire using water.

Fire-fighters from Kakamega county government arrived some 30 minutes after the fire erupted but ran out of water before they could contain the raging flames.

It took their colleagues from Vihiga County, who arrived an hour later, to put out the fire.

Mr Rodgers Anyika, another neighbour, accused the school of locking out the community who wanted to help in containing the fire.

"Had we been allowed into the school on time, we would have assisted to put out the fire before it worsened," he said.

The residents blamed the county government of ill-preparedness in terms of response towards disasters.

"It is surprising that the county fire engine is ineffective. They rushed to the scene without enough water and, when they went back for water, they did not return," he said.

The school principal, Mr Bernard Lukuya, declined to speak on the matter.

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