Property worth hundreds of millions of shillings was on Tuesday reduced to ashes after fire broke out at Sai Eden Rock Hotel in Malindi.
Two tourists sustained serious injuries after they allegedly jumped out of their rooms, and were rushed to a private hospital for treatment.
Guests who were staying at the resort battled to save their lives and their belongings when the blaze began at the resort’s restaurant at 4.30am.
Firefighters from Malindi Airport and Malindi Sub County, Red Cross personnel, hotel staff and local residents put out the flames after over three hours— when most facilities had already gone up in smoke.
Most Makuti-thatched structures like the reception, restaurant, kitchen, bar and one conference hall were completely burnt down.
Some door and window panes were broken as hotel staff and managers battled to save property.
The windows of a car that was parked outside the hotel were also smashed in the confusion.
Hotel Manager Ravi Rohra said their entire investment was over Sh850 million and were yet to establish the extend of the loss.
“The fire started from the restaurant, and spread over the kitchen and other areas. The loss could have been bigger had we not switched off the main power source and gas cylinders,’’ he told Nation in an interview.
He said the resort had an accommodation capacity of 280 holidaymakers but they had 16 when the flames broke out.
Authorities had to close down the resort indefinitely and lay off all the 60 employees due to the loss.
Mr Rohra said they would not be able to operate during Christmas and New Year as there was no time for reconstruction.
Witnesses blamed the huge losses on the firefighters’ delay to arrive at the scene for over an hour. The first to arrive was a small fire engine from Malindi Sub County followed by another one from Malindi Airport.
MS Jane Gachie, a domestic tourist from Naivasha, with her German husband and two children escaped unhurt in the incident.
She told journalist that they had booked in at the hotel on Monday for a three-day holiday that was cut short by the inferno.
“I was awakened by a loud blast from the restaurant and upon checking I saw a huge cloud of smoke,’’ she said.
The family managed to save all their belongings and locked them in their car.
Most visitors who were affected by the incident were referred to Sai Rock Hotel in Mombasa and other tourist resorts in Malindi.
The fire comes in the wake of the festive season and guests have already begun flocking resort town for holiday.
Residents and investors raised concerns over the county’s preparedness for disasters.