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St Patrick's School Iten dormitory goes up in flames in latest wave of school fires

Onlookers watch helplessly as Dorm 10 at St Patrick’s School in Iten goes up in flames Tuesday night. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

One dormitory was burnt to ashes at St Patrick’s School in Iten Tuesday night.

On a night that kept fire brigades and rescue services across the country busy, St Patrick’s is one of five schools whose dormitories were burnt to the ground.

 Dorm 10 at St Patrick’s used to accommodate 88 students.

The fire broke out at 7.30 pm and is suspected to have been ignited by an outsider. Students from adjacent dorms allegedly saw somebody running away from the dormitory immediately the fire started but he outran them when they gave chase.

The dormitory was donated to the school in 1985 and the school principal Wilson Yego says the incident is a suspected arson attack.

St Patrick's becomes the first national school to be set ablaze since the series of arson incidents began in schools across the country.

The Principal says he was from Nairobi to engage stakeholders on establishment of a new dormitory to cater for the increasing student population which currently stands at over 900.

Nobody has been injured in the incident but nothing was salvaged from the fire. County Commissioner Fredrick Ndambuki, who was at the scene, confirmed that the administration have taken over security of the school until normalcy returns.

County Director of Education Ms. Sabina Aroni said preliminary indications show it is an arson attack, saying St Patrick’s Iten is the second school in the region after St Augustine Emsea to lose infrastructure from fire.

Elgeiyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said the incident is unfortunate to happen to a national school that has consistently performed excellently. The governor, who is also an old boy of the school, said his government will offer necessary support to ensure learning continues uninterrupted.

The school administration and stakeholders will convene tomorrow to deliberate on the way forward and it is then that a decision on whether the school will be closed or not will be made.

Mr Ndambuki assured residents that thorough investigations will be done to unmask the arsonists and all findings would be made public.

Residents challenged Elgeiyo Marakwet County to purchase at least one fire engine to handle such emergencies, saying the delayed arrival of a fire brigade team from Uasin Gishu made it impossible to salvage any property.

Four other schools fires were reported on the same night: Kiini Girl's High school in Kirinyaga County in which two dormitories were burnt; St Stephen Secondary, Nkoitoi, Narok County in which one dormitory was burnt; Merti Girl's High School in Isiolo where one dormitory was burnt and Giakaibei Sec, Mathira, Nyeri County where two dormitories were burnt.

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