Panic in Wajir after fire near Ethiopian border - Daily Nation

Panic in Wajir after hunters start fire near Ethiopian border

Sunday January 13 2019

A house goes up in flames in Wajir town

A house goes up in flames in Wajir town on May 30, 2014 following clashes between members of the Gare and Degodia communities. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By BRUHAN MAKONG
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There was panic in Wajir County on Saturday night when a huge fire broke out in Bute Godha hills on the Ethiopian side, the fear being that it would spread to the Kenyan side.

County commissioner Loyford Kibaara said honey hunters started the fire near Eel Khalu along the border and that the fear was because of the presence of strong winds.

APPEAL

Residents appealed for help from the county and the national government through channels including social media.

They noted that there was nothing they could do to prevent the fire from spreading.

Mr Kibaara said the county led by Governor Mohamed Abdi Mohamud made preparations following the fire that started at about 7pm.

The incident took place a day after a fire in Tulatula that left one person injured and property destroyed.

About 100 livestock died while 15 houses were razed as residents tried for about three hours to put out the fire.

RECURRING

Tulatula residents said that was the first such incident and noted that they incur heavy losses.

They accused the county of failing to respond and poked holes into its disaster preparedness.

One of them told journalists that they were forced to transport water to the scene using motorcycles.

The recurring fires are seen as a ticking time bomb for the county mainly inhabited by pastoralist communities.

Many in Wajir earn their livelihoods from livestock so they suffer major losses when fires consume vegetation.

The county engine serves all the six sub-counties in Wajir and the department is under-staffed, according to a fire fighter who did not want to be named.

He noted that they need advanced training to be able to mitigate disasters.

PLAN

The Wajir transformation plan covers training and the supply of equipment to the disaster management team.

The Directorate of Disaster Management said in April that it would construct disaster preparedness warehouses in all the sub-counties and equip staff with emergency response tools such as fire fighting kits.

It also said it would supply medicine as well as food and non-food items and train staff on the management of the warehouses and response to disasters.