Six people, among them a mother and her three children, perished Tuesday night after fire razed two residential houses in Matanya market, Laikipia County.
Three of the children aged between 18 months and 18 years were sleeping with their mother, Beatrice Wambui, 29, when fire erupted a few minutes to midnight.
Two others aged seven and six years had been left in an adjacent room by their mother.
The six were burnt beyond recognition as neighbours’ attempts to put off the inferno proved futile as strong winds currently being experienced in the areas fuelled the blaze.
Police gave the names of the dead as Ms Wambui and her three children Agnes Wangui, 8, Joseph Mwangi aged six and the last born Faith Wanjiru aged 18 months.
The fire started in Wambui’s house before spreading to the adjacent room where two brothers, Dickson Mwangi and John Muturi aged seven and six years respectively, were sleeping having been locked by their mother from outside. They both perished.
Police are yet to establish the cause of the fire that reduced the timber structure to ashes.
However, it is suspected the fire could have been started by a burning candle as the house was not connected to electricity.
“Initial police investigations indicate that Wambui left a candle burning before she slept with her three children. She was reportedly drunk and when the fire erupted, she could not save herself or her children,” said Laikipia County Commissioner Onesmus Musyoka speaking at the scene.
The timber building had six rooms, two of them residential, with the others being used as a hotel, a posh mill and a store.
The owner of the building, Mr Njoroge Theuri, who also operated the hotel, estimated the loss to be about Sh700,000.
“I operated the posho mill and the hotel and had rented out one room as a store for a second-hand clothes dealer. Nothing was salvaged and besides the loss of lives, valuable property has also been reduced to ashes.
Matanya market is located 25 kilometres from Nanyuki Town and residents said even if the fire engine had been alerted, it could not have reached there on time since it took less than 15 minutes for the entire timber structure to burn to the ground.