Fire leaves 2,000 Kibera residents homeless

Kibera fire

Dorothy Mbula, a resident of Laini Saba in Kibera picks up a few remains from her house on February 11, 2023. More than 300 homes were burnt down leaving hundreds of people homeless and with no home or food to eat.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Desperation, destruction, and a sense of collective gloom best describe the mood at Laini Saba, Kibera where a fire gutted down 350 houses leaving over 2,000 residents homeless and property worth millions of shillings destroyed.

To date, no one knows how the fire started.

Some believe it was a gas explosion, others assume it was caused by an electric fault while others think it was the embers from a common area for burning trash that drifted into the homesteads.

The authorities have not given them an answer too.

The Nation found Dorothy Mbula, a resident whose two houses were reduced to nothing rummaging through the charred house items hoping to salvage one or two items that could still hold value.

She raises her head, stares blankly at the skies, and heaves heavily then back to the remains of what was once her precious goods.

All along, some smoke billows from the ash-filled floor that once used to house her and her eight children.

She was going on with her trade when the incident happened.

A mobile fruit vendor, Ms Mbula had already walked from her house in Kibera to South C when she received a distress call from her 19-year-old daughter, Rhoda Mutheu, informing her that their entire area was on fire but they had luckily escaped.


Residents of Laini Saba in Kibera pick up what’s left of their houses after a fire outbreak.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

“I was startled and immediately rushed back home! Everything that I had was destroyed. My children were safe though. No one died in the fire, but the amount of loss is unfathomable. Everyone here lost everything,” Ms Mbula said.

The few items that had been spared by the raging fire were stolen by youths who many residents say responded ostensibly to assist the victims.

Walking through the rubbles

This was Ms Mbula’s experience who had to retrace the steps of the vandalisers picking her clothes and those of her children along the path.

She had just finished washing and airing them on the hanging lines when the Nation found her walking through the rubbles.

For Maureen Kioko, 27, the fire has reduced her family to zero.

 A busy shopkeeper, Ms Kioko was attending to the family’s business a few hundred metres away when the mysterious fire began.

By the time she got the information and rushed back home, their two houses had been flattened.

“It is even sad that the firefighters got here by noon but their truck had no water and we had to wait for another one to put out the fire. Why would they even come when they know they have no water?” she posed.

Currently, her mother alongside her other siblings are being housed by Good Samaritans as they await help from well-wishers even as they look for finances to move to another house.

Still dazed by the happenings, Moses Mungai is yet to come to terms with losing over 50 rental houses that have been fetching his family income for generations since they were built in the 90s by his father.

He has been managing them for the last two decades and getting at least Sh120,000 per month in rental income.

Taking children back to school

He was the only one living in a stone house in the area destroyed by the fire and though the structure remains, nothing in the house survived.

“This fire just happened just after taking children back to school.  We used whatever little money we had and as we were waiting for this month’s rent. I am so devastated, where do I now begin?” he said.

Thus far, most of the victims are living in a hall with their children together with whatever they could salvage.

“Our MCA, visited us Tuesday morning; the morning after the fire and brought us milk and bread for breakfast and we have not seen him since. How is that a solution to our predicament? It is like the leaders have forgotten us,” Ms Kioko said.

Laini Saba Nyumba Kumi chairperson Ken Agalo said he had seen immeasurable pain experienced by the locals who have been moved from tenants and even house owners to internally displaced persons.

“People have been sleeping in the cold, some on the roadsides. There is some reconstruction work going on but for very few houses. Most of us do not have the money for swift reconstruction. We call on our leaders to do something for us and swiftly so,” he said.