A quarrel between a tout and his wife left over 700 people homeless in the Kiambiu slums, Buruburu, after the man set their house on fire.
The fire spread quickly, completely burning down at least 200 iron sheet structures in the slum on Sunday night.
Even after the man threatened to commit suicide by setting his house on fire following the scuffle, neighbours did not take him seriously.
On Sunday morning, as he left for work, he warned his wife and threatened that he would “do something very bad.”
The wife then informed the neighbours, but oblivious of the plans the man had, they did not take any action or inform the police.
That evening, the woman bought food and prepared it for her three children before leaving for her mother’s house in Eastleigh at 7pm.
At around 9pm, the Nmoa Sacco tout went home carrying paraffin, which he poured in his house before setting it ablaze.
He rushed out, locked the door from outside using two padlocks, and then disappeared. A few minutes later, their house was engulfed in fire. By yesterday evening, according to the police, he had not been found.
Neighbours said the suspect never used to talk to anyone and had on several occasions disagreed with the wife over his drinking. They also said he had threatened to stab the wife.
“He used to live in house number 33. I am his immediate neighbour but had never talked to him,” said one of the residents.
He would leave very early in the morning and come back very late while drunk in most cases.
Nairobi County police commander Japheth Koome on Tuesday said a fire inquiry file had been opened but he was yet to receive the preliminary report.
“A team was constituted to investigate the incident with a view to establishing what transpired. We have however established that no life was involved,” Mr Koome said.
According to a neighbour, Anthony Wachira, Mr Otieno had lived there for over three years but never used to interact with anyone.
“The fire spread fast and we lost everything. Some of the residents had even bought uniforms and textbooks for the children,” said Samuel Barasa, an immediate neighbour.
Some residents were now relying on well-wishers, including Osward Mwiti, who operates a food kiosk at the entrance of the slum.
“I was once a victim and I lost everything, including my motorcycle. We will help where we can,” Mr Mwiti said.