A suspected arsonist burnt down Bar Kowino Mixed Secondary in Bondo Constituency, Siaya County, killing a Form Three student and injuring ten others on Friday night.
Eric Odhiambo Ngesa was sick and asleep when his colleagues were in class. He was too weak to escape because the door was locked from outside. He was found dead at the doorstep.
Some students in the dormitory during the 9pm incident said they saw a man escape over the fence after fire broke out at one of the dormitories.
All the two dormitories housing 200 boys were razed down. “Some of my colleagues who were in the dormitories escaped with injuries. I saw a man who is not a student leave the dormitory after the fire broke out. We later realised Ngesa had been trapped in the inferno but it was too late to save him,” a student who was at the dormitory during the tragedy, revealed.
A second dormitory was also partially damaged. Broken beds, blankets shoes, books and clothes littered the compound. The students spent the night in classrooms. Fire fighters arrived at the school at 11pm, after the fire had died down. Nurses at the Bondo Sub-County Hospital said they had treated and discharged ten students, most of whom suffered bruises and slight burns.
Area Deputy County Commissioner Richard Ojwang said the police had launched investigations into the incident. “It is true one student died and a few others sustained injuries. This is an unfortunate event and the police are investigating the cause of the fire,” Mr Ojwang said.
It has now emerged that animosity between villagers and the school management may have led to locals torching the institution.
A group of villagers last week staged demonstrations against the principal, John Mboga, over alleged mismanagement of school resources. Residents told us that Mr Mboga was involved in row with a parent whose daughter was expelled over affairs with other students.
Mr Mboga could not be reached for comment, but last week, he was quoted on a local radio station saying some villagers have accused him of mismanaging school funds.
“There is a local pastor who wants to be hired yet he has no qualification. This is why we strongly feel the fire was caused by an outsider,” said Martin Ooko, a local.