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Meru couple, 2 sons who died in house fire buried in one grave

Friday April 26 2019

Meru house fire victims

The coffins bearing the remains of Meru couple Eric Guantai and wife Caroline Gakii, and their children Tony Mwenda and Christian Karani, during a service at Taai Methodist Church ahead of burial on April 26, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

CHARLES WANYORO
By CHARLES WANYORO
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A couple and their two sons, who were burnt to death in their house at the weekend, were on Friday buried in the same grave at their Murimanjo village home in Kathera, Meru county.

The victims were Mr Eric Guantai (41), his wife Caroline Gakii (36), Tony Mwenda (12) and Christian Karani (six).

Family members, residents and church leaders eulogised them as a model family that thrived in church, community and business affairs.

WHAT HAPPENED

The family died in a fire that broke out at about 3.30am on Sunday.

Mr Robert Mwirigi, Mr Guantai's cousin, narrated how they were woken up by screams but were unable to put out the fire as it was raging.

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“We tried to put it out using water but it was too fierce and was being fuelled by wind," he said.

It took about 20 minutes for the house to be razed to the ground.

Rescuers found the bodies huddled together in the parents’ bedroom, in what appeared to have been their attempt to protect the children.

Two vehicles were partially burnt in the incident.

Meru couple Eric Guantai and Caroline Gakii,
Meru couple Eric Guantai and Caroline Gakii, who died in a house fire alongside their children Tony Mwenda and Christian Karani, as pictured in the funeral programme during the ceremony on April 26, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The remains of the house in Murimanjo village
The remains of the house in Murimanjo village in Kathera, Meru County, in which a couple and their two children were burnt to death on April 21, 2019. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

INCONSOLABLE

At the funeral, mourners were inconsolable as the four bodies were lowered into the grave, a few metres from where the family's timber house once stood.

The caskets bearing the remains of the children were placed between those of the parents.

Led by Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu, leaders demanded answers from Kenya Power on the cause of the fire.

“We are talking to Kenya Power since fire disasters are frequent. We are also talking to the county commissioner so the investigations are speedy," Mr Ntuchiu said during a service at Taai Methodist Church near Kagwampungu market.

"We don’t want the investigations delayed. We would like to establish if the fire was caused by an electric fault."

His sentiments were echoed by County Chief of Staff Gideon Kimathi and a host of members of county assembly.

Nkuene MCA Martin Koome Makasi said fire engines should be available in towns and markets.

Nkuene MCA Martin Koome Makasi, Meru Deputy
Nkuene MCA Martin Koome Makasi, Meru Deputy Governor Titus Ntuchiu and County Chief of Staff Gideon Kimathi during the memorial service at Taai Methodist Church for the family of four that died in a house fire. PHOTO | CHARLES WANYORO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

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