Traders in Kisumu are counting losses after fire razed the region’s largest open air market, Kibuye, on Friday night.
The 8pm fire, burnt down half of the market destroying stalls, stores and goods valued at millions of shillings, according to traders.
This is the fourth time the market has experienced fire incidences in less than a year.
Among sections destroyed included furniture workshops, grocery and clothes' stores, hardware, and a section of offices. Fire fighters contained the inferno in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Eyewitnesses said the inferno could have been caused by a faulty power line in one of the stores.
Mr Peter Amollo, whose workshop was burnt down during the incident, said the fire begun at a neighbour’s store before spreading to nearby stalls in the market. They suspect he had left his electric cooker on.
“Most of the kiosks were wooden while some were made of iron sheets making the fire to spread faster. The inferno started from a hotel kitchen,” he said.
His colleague George Okola, whose carpentry store was destroyed, said he received a phone call from a friend informing him of the fire, only to return and find his store burnt down.
“The fire spread in the area and could not be contained by those present. The rate at which it spread was quite shocking. By the time the fire brigade arrived almost most shops had been razed,” he said.
Ms Priscilla Atieno, a grocery trader said she received a call that his wares were on fire and could not save a thing.
“I watched helplessly as the fire consumed my property. Many of those who have been affected depended on these businesses as their only source of income,” she said.
The fire fighters in collaboration with the traders helped to extinguish the fire despite the wind which spread it farther.
Governor Jack Ranguma who toured the market said the county will assist the traders recover some of the losses and build new stall to replace the destroyed.
“We are also in the process of re-designing the market to avoid fire outbreaks attributed to electric faults due to poor and illegal connections. We are going to open roads and improve the drainage system to make it more efficient for users,” he said.
County Police Commander Nelson Njiiri said investigations had begun on the cause of the fire.
“We are compiling statements from those affected and eye witnesses to ascertain the cause of the fire,” he said.