A mother's love: Hero medic dies in house fire while rescuing son

Huldah Mahikizo

Huldah Mahikizo who died in a fire that also claimed her two-year-old son. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • The bubbly medic died in a fire when she entered her house to save her two-year-old son.
  • The flames consumed her home and most of the items in the master bedroom where the baby was sleeping.

Huldah Mahikizo, a clinical officer at Port Reitz Hospital in Mombasa County, danced joyfully during a medical officers’ strike in Nairobi earlier this week, savouring the moment as she fought for her rights and those of fellow medics. 

Sadly, on Wednesday, tragedy struck in Madzindani village, in Kaloleni, Kilifi County where Huldah lived, leaving the community in sorrow—the bubbly medic died in a fire when she entered her house to rescue her two-year-old son.

Yesterday, her house strongly smelt of burnt wood and melted plastic. Water on the floor indicated attempts by the villagers who had turned up to try to put out the fire.

According to witnesses who spoke to the Nation, Huldah’s maternal instincts led her to her death, as she was at her chemist when the fire broke out.

“We were just sitting as neighbours in the evening when we saw smoke. We started calling neighbours. Mahikizo, who was in her chemist, which is in her compound but a distance from the main house, came to save the child who was sleeping, but the fire overwhelmed her,” said Ms Agnes Kanzao, one of the neighbours who witnessed the incident.

The neighbours explained that if it were not for her love for her son, the deceased wouldn’t have attempted to enter the house since the fire was big.

The flames consumed their home, and most of the things in the master bedroom where the baby was sleeping.

According to the neighbours, she bravely battled the spreading fire to save her cherished child. The smoke, however, overwhelmed her.

At the time, her husband, Mr George Sewaali, was at a neighbour’s compound. By the time he arrived at the scene, there was little he could do.

Standing in the charred remains of their once-happy home, he was weighed down by the unbearable grief. Shattered, he recounted the agonising moments of the tragedy.

“The masons working nearby were the first ones who rushed to their rescue. My son was sleeping. When I arrived and entered the house, I called for my wife, but there was no response. The fire officers came and that’s when we were able to get to them, but it was too late. They were both gone,” said Mr Sewaali.

In tears, Mr Sewaali explained that he had left everyone okay and gone to help a neighbour with fencing at the time of the incident.

His older daughter, who is a Grade Three pupil, was outside of the house when the fire broke out.

The family suspects that the medic likely suffocated and collapsed since her lifeless body was discovered on the bathroom floor.

They believe that in her frantic search for an exit from the bedroom, she inadvertently made her way to the bathroom, where she met her untimely demise.

Another neighbour, Ms Tabugoma Kalama, says that delays by the county fire department stationed in Mariakani, made it difficult to put out the fire and save the two.

“The villagers made every effort to extinguish the fire, fetching water from nearby wells and even breaking through the roof to access the house. The fire truck arrived approximately two hours later,” said Ms Kalama.

The villagers eulogised Huldah as a kind and selfless individual, always ready to assist anyone in need. They said she was a hero for the assistance she provided through her chemist—they said it had helped many in the community.

The bodies of the two, the family said, were taken to Kilifi Hospital mortuary.

Despite residents suggesting that the fire was caused by an electrical fault, the police have stated that they are still investigating the matter to ascertain the truth.

At the time of her death, Huldah was serving as the treasurer for the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Mombasa branch.

“Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and the entire clinical officers fraternity is mourning. Our condolences go out to her family, friends, and the entire clinical officers fraternity during this difficult time,” the union said in a statement.