A woman and five children Wednesday died in a fire that gutted their home at Matanya village in Nanyuki Wednesday.
Residents watched helplessly as the fire consumed the two adjacent wooden houses, where the woman and her three children slept, before spreading to the next one where two of her neighbour’s children were.
The owner of the rental houses, Joseph Theuri, said he had received a phone call informing him that his property was on fire and rushed to the scene.
Theuri operated a food kiosk and a posho mill on the premises.
Both were lost in the fire.
Efforts to put out the fire were complicated by the strong winds that fanned the flames. Rescue teams tried in vain to put out the fire using sand.
Despite calling the emergency number, Theuri said no fire engine was made available. Police came after the fire had been put out.
Jane Muthoni said she had ensured that the children were safely asleep before leaving to collect her clothes from a neighbour.
“I wasn’t away for 30 minutes, but when I returned the house was on fire,” said Muthoni.
The mother of three lost two of her children in the fire. The third one was not at home.
Her neighbours speculated that the fire could have been started by a candle that was accidentally knocked over.
“The woman could have knocked a candle over when she was brought home by a friend after a night out drinking,” said Florence Nyambura.
Laikipia Central OCPD Ben Changulo said an inquest into the fire had been opened.
The children were aged between one and nine years.