Dormitories at two Migori schools razed in night fires

Migori fire

The fire at St Peters Abwao Secondary School destroyed a dorm on Tuesday night.

Photo credit: Ian Bryon | Nation Media Group

Dormitories at two Migori schools went up in flames in separate fires on Tuesday night.

They followed recent similar blazes in Busia and Vihiga counties.

Property of unknown value was destroyed in the fires at St Peter’s Abwao Secondary in Suna West sub-county and Osingo Mixed Secondary in Suna East in suspected arson attacks.

At St Peter’s Abwao, students are suspected to have set on fire their 208-bed dormitory that housed Form Two and Form Three students.

Education stakeholders, led by Suna West sub-county education director George Onyango and Principal Jactone Ogolla, sent the affected students home as police started investigating the fire.

“We have resolved to send Form Two and Form Three students home, since they are the most affected. Even day scholars will have to stay home until Monday as the issue is resolved,” Mr Onyango said on Wednesday.

Mr Ogolla said no student was hurt in the incident and refused to confirm if any suspect was arrested, insisting police had taken up the matter.

The fire started at around 9pm when students were attending their evening classes, and the principal suspects that it was a planned arson attack.

“All the students’ belongings were burnt in the fire. We could not salvage anything from the fire as it spread quickly,” Mr Ogolla said, noting that the Migori County fire brigade did not respond despite being promptly alerted.

“Firefighters from Migori County did not respond. The building was completely destroyed by the inferno and can no longer be used. It is unsafe for learners,” he added.

Parents and residents who turned up to put out the fire were kept at bay by the raging inferno that engulfed the entire building before it caved in.

On Wednesday morning, anxious parents flocked to the school to check on their children following the fire report.

"We were not certain of the safety of the learners, that is why we came,” noted Doreen Akoth, a parent.

At Osingo Mixed, 76 students spent Tuesday night in the cold after their dormitory was gutted in a similar manner when they were in class for night preps.

Principal John Umani said the fire might have been caused by an electrical fault, noting that investigations had started.

“It started at around 8pm while the students were in class. Although we tried to put out the fire, we lost nearly all the property,” he noted.

Suna West MP Peter Masara described the fire as unfortunate “at a time schools had strained infrastructure due to Covid-19 regulations”.

“Most schools can’t maintain social distance and most CDF kitties don’t have enough resources to meet this,” he said.

Mr Masara called on police to hasten investigations into the incidents and bring the perpetrators to book.

“Any student suspected to be behind the infernos should be arrested and treated as criminals with their parents bearing the brunt of the losses,” he said.

Earlier in the year, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha warned parents to be ready to pay for school property destroyed in infernos or during student unrest.

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