Traders in Luanda Town, Vihiga County, are counting losses of unknown value after a huge fire gutted six shops on Friday.
Angry residents pelted a county government water bowser with stones for arriving at the scene more than an hour after the inferno began.
The glasses of the bowser were smashed as the driver struggled to flee the scene.
The county has no fire engine and relies on those from neighbouring Kakamega and Kisumu counties, which, residents said, did not respond to the emergency call.
Luanda Sub-County administrator Wilberforce Agesa said the fire started at 2pm and lasted more than three hours.
It is said to have started from a nearby house and spread to the shops. Residents and traders battled to put out the fire and prevent it from spreading to other buildings.
It took long to put out the fire due to insufficient water and the slow pace of using buckets and jerrycans to ferry the water.
The destroyed shops are adjacent to Luanda Market, the main revenue earner in Vihiga County.
Some traders in other shops managed to remove their goods and save them from the fire, and loaded them onto pick-ups and lorries.
The cause of fire was not immediately established, but Mr Agesa said preliminary reports linked it to an electric fault.
Mr Agesa said Vihiga County is in the process of setting up a disaster response unit and the county’s fire engine is being assembled in Germany.