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Mystery as repeat fires hit villages

By LAWRENCE ALURU | Apr 15th 2014 | 3 min read


Siaya, KENYA: A mysterious fire has destroyed more than 100 homes in less than eight months at Nyandheho, Kamalunga and Kamrembo in Siaya County.

What is peculiar about this tragedy is that most of the homesteads that have been razed belong to elderly people. The residents are now blaming witchcraft for the fires and are pointing fingers at the old men and women as suspects.


The victims, including old men, women and children are now forced to sleep under trees. Most of those rendered homeless have taken refuge in their relatives’ houses as they build new houses.

Elizabeth Orega, 49, one of the affected whose son’s house caught fire at around 9am yesterday when there was no one at home, says the fire is mysterious.


She said the fire spread simultaneously from one homestead to the other in the same villages causing a lot of damage to property. She says the cause of the fire still remains mysterious since villagers have not seen anyone in the compound that may have lit the fire.

Florence Achieng 40, whose house was burnt to ashes, said she has lost all her property as the fire began when she was out in the field planting maize.

Ms Achieng says the fire may have been caused by a bird or witchcraft because it begun when there was nobody in the compound.

“The fire outbreak in this place begins when nobody is around. I believe this is caused by witchcraft or a mysterious bird,” she said.


Usonga Disaster Committee Chairman Paul Okome says the bizarre fire has left the residents in shock.

Okome says some of the displaced victims have been forced to seek refuge at relatives’ homes while others are putting up under trees in open fields as per the Luo tradition.

The tradition requires that a person whose home has been burnt should not seek refuge in another house until rituals are performed to cleanse him or her.

Quintoline Atieno, a widow and a mother of five, lost all her belongings, including farm produce, to the fire.

Atieno and her father-in-law, Dismas Odhiambo, are among the latest casualties, as their house was the latest to go up in flames. Bishop Gabriel Ouma of Free Pentecostal Churches of Kenya says they have always come together in prayers in order to appease the bad spirit.

“We have noticed that the fires come with the arrival of rains. But the myth surrounding the fires is still unknown except that we believe it is a bad one,” said the bishop.

Kamalunga Chief Augustine Omuya says several houses have been burnt to ashes while four others were rescued before their roofs fell down.

Omuya says the cause of the fire has not been established but word went round that it might be caused by a kind of bird that perches on the roof tops.

He says such incidents had been reported in other neighbouring sub locations such as Nyandheho and Samia in Siaya and Busia Counties respectively.


The residents reported the fire incidents to neighbouring Nyadorera police station. Siaya CC Peter Jomwa, Siaya OCPD Stephen Cheteka and the Siaya DCIO Mshenga Kasim witnessed some of the incidents.

The officers, led by Mr Jomwa, told the residents that investigations were underway and the findings would be made public.

Jomwa assured the residents that the government will come to their aid and help relieve their misery.

Siaya Governor Cornel Rasanga intervened a few days ago when he donated 20 iron sheets and food to the victims.

His deputy Wilson Onyango also donated food stuffs and blankets to last weekend.

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