Fierce fire left more than 40 families homeless in Nyeri after the county fire department failed to respond.
Frustrated residents were forced to use buckets to try and salvage their property worth millions in vain as the 2pm fire spread fast destroying the wooden structures at Kamkwa's Jericho estate.
The county fire and rescue department failed to respond despite the fire station being less than three kilometres away, saying all the fire engines had mechanical issues.
The county disaster management unit has six fire engines, but only one is functional and was stationed in Karatina, 30 kilometres away when the fire broke
Desperate locals rushed to the fire station, but could not get help as the engines ‘slept’ in the station.
“I called the fire brigade and even went there personally and they told me that all their vehicles were in the garage and will be fixed on Monday," a distraught Ephantus Mwangi said.
At some point boda boda operators went to the garage in an attempt to jumpstart the fire engine to no avail.
It was a chaotic scene as desperate victims used buckets and basins and to fetch tap water and try to put out the fire.
Nyeri County Police Commander Adiel Nyange said the cause of the fire is yet to be established.
Special programmes CEC Esther Ndungu confirmed that the fire engines had broken down at the time of the incident.
"We have now fixed one of engines and it responded to fire that took place yesterday morning, “she said.
The county government of Nyeri recently bought two modern fire engines to enhance its fire-fighting capacity and disaster preparedness.
The engines were acquired from Austria and were to arrive in Nyeri early this year, but it seems nothing has changed despite the purchase.
Governor Mutahi Kahiga said the county would set up a disaster management unit at an initial cost of Sh10 million and that firemen had been hired and trained to operate the engines.
It is not yet clear whether the newly acquired engines are among the ones that stalled as fire destroyed property.