Angry residents pelted stones at a fire truck that arrived late following an inferno which consumed property valued at millions of shillings in Kisii town.
The fire, the second such incident in the last week, occurred just after 2pm Tuesday at Jua Kali area, located next to Shivling and Kisii Matt Supermarkets. It quickly spread to adjacent business premises.
With no county fire engines in sight, members of the public tried to put out the inferno themselves.
Meanwhile, since the truck was unavailable, the county's disaster management officers resorted to seeking help from neighbouring Nyamira County which sent a vehicle.
But as the vehicle made its way to the scene an hour later, it was greeted with anger from boda boda operators who wanted to torch it. They said it had taken too long to respond to their frantic calls for help.
Police officers had to lob teargas canisters to disperse the angry mob that wanted to torch the vehicle.
It was quickly driven to the fire station, which is a few metres from RAM Hospital, before police officers escorted it to the scene. Only then did locals team up with the county brigade to put out the inferno.
In a statement sent to newsrooms later, Kisii County Government explained that its fire truck was on another rescue mission.
"It is unfortunate that some of the onlookers started throwing stones and halted the rescue mission for a while. We call upon members of the public to desist from such behaviour as two wrongs don't make a right," the notice said.
Kisii County police commander Francis Kooli said they had launched investigations to ascertain the cause of the fire. He also warned locals against speculation.
Mr Pius Migiro, a trader who sells metallic boxes and cylinders, said he had lost property worth more than Sh300,000 in the fire.
“I am totally finished. I do not know how I will service my loan as all my goods were destroyed and others looted,” he lamented.