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Electrical fire destroys main market at Dadaab refugee camp

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GARISSA (Xinhua) -- A fire gutted down the main market at Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, destroying property worth millions of shilling sin northern Kenya, witnesses confirmed on Tuesday.

The camp is among the biggest hosting more than 80,000 refugees mainly from neighbouring Somalia where fighting has been going on between Al-Shabaab and the Africa Union soldiers.

Witnesses told Xinhua that the blaze started at 18: 00 local time on Monday near a popular eating joint Midnimo Hotel before spreading to nearby stalls including goods, M-pesa and hotels and Safaricom booster.

Garissa County Commissioner Mohamed Maalim who confirmed the incident on Tuesday said that the fire was caused by an electric fault.

"Thank God fire fighters managed to put it off before it could cause a lot of destruction," Maalim said by telephone.

According to Hagardera Refugee Main camp chairman Ahmed Muhumed Dahir, the fire was suspected to have been caused by an electric fault from one of the stalls.

"It was round 18:00 when we saw smoke emanating from a stall that is located at the main market prompting us to raise alarm.

"We tried to use soil and water to put the fire off but it was all in vain, the strong wind and the shop congestion made it impossible to put it off," said Dahir.

He said fire fighters from the United Nations agencies working in the sprawling Dadaab refugee complex, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the security officers arrived a few minutes later putting off the fire that had not reached the refugees residence.

"Its unfortunate traders keep on losing their goods worth millions due to fire break out caused by electrical faults, and we have never been compensated for the loses we incur, this time round there won’t be any difference," Dahir said.

Two months ago a similar fire broke out in Dagahaley refugee camp destroying more than 30 stalls.

The fire was suspected to have been caused by an electric fault.

Early this month, a mysterious fire razed regional police headquarters in Garissa near the border with Somalia.

The authorities said the inferno was caused by an electric fault and not Al-Shabaab.

The fire begun at the Anti-Terrorism Police Unit (ATPU) offices before spreading fast, razing down 12 offices and the registration offices on Oct 2.

It also destroyed vital properties, crucial records and other valuables worth thousands of shillings.

The situation was worsened by the strong winds making it difficult for the fire fighters from the Garissa municipal council and the military to put it off.


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