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Domestic violence suspected after couple dies in house fire

Saturday February 16 2019

Nyandarua fire

A file photo of a fire at Miharati Centre in Kipipiri, Nyandarua County. A couple died in a fire that gutted their house at Kwa Mumbi village in Nyandarua on the night of February 15, 2019. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUKINYO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

WAIKWA MAINA
By WAIKWA MAINA
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Residents of a Nyandarua County village have asked many questions following the deaths of a retired secondary school teacher and his wife, a nurse, in a house fire on Friday night.

Mr Samuel Kamakia taught at Salient Secondary School, about a kilometer from his Kwa Mumbi village home, while Veronica Wanjiru worked at JM Memorial Hospital.

Mr Kamakia's body was found in the kitchen and his wife's in a bathroom that had been locked.

SUSPICION

Asked about events surrounding the fire, neighbour Michael Karanja said they suspected foul play and that it may have resulted from a case of domestic violence.

“We heard noises from the house and then all went silent. The fire erupted a few minutes after the noises," he said.

Mr Karanja also claimed that as the fire escalated from the bedroom, Mr Kamakia was overheard asking his wife not to alert neighbours by making phone calls.

A phone suspected to belong to Ms Wanjiru was found a short distance from the house. Residents alleged the man snatched it from her and threw it out through their bedroom window to keep her from making calls.

“She first called her sons in Nairobi who in turn alerted the neighbours. It is unclear why they did not escape before the fire spread to other rooms. The house has two exit doors located a safe distance from the bedroom,” said Mr Karanja.

EXITS LOCKED

Ruth Nyawira, who was among the first to arrive at the scene, said the two exit doors had been padlocked from inside.

“If the fire started in their bedroom they had enough time to escape ... they had enough time to open the doors,” said Ms Nyawira.

Residents spent the better part of the night battling the fire that started at about midnight.

They complained that firefighters had not arrived by morning when they managed to put it out.

The situation worsened at around 5am when two gas cylinders exploded, blowing off the entire roof of the three-bedroom stand-house. The shower was on when the bathroom was opened.

Mr Stansellous Mwangi, of the Nyandarua Central Directorate of Criminal Investigations, said police were looking into the matter.

Police took the bodies to the mortuary at JM Memorial Hospital.