Father 101, son 69 die in Njoro house fire

Grief-stricken residents of Subuku village at the scene where Peter Chege, 69 and his father Robert Kinyanjui, 101 died in a house fire on March 4, 2022. [Kennedy Gachuhi, Standard]

A 69-year-old man and his father died following a house fire in Njoro, Nakuru County on Friday night.

Subuku residents were left in shock after the man set the house on fire leaving him and his 101-year-old father dead.

Njoro Sub County Police Commander Isaac Odumbe said Peter Chege, 69, started the fire at around 9pm.

“There were three people in the house at the time of the incident. Chege threatened his son Francis Mwangi with an axe forcing him to flee. Chege and his father Robert Kinyanjui died in the fire,” said Odumbe.

The police boss said the fire spread fast hindering efforts to save the two.

“Residents and the fire department were unable to put out the fire in time. Kinyanjui and Chege were both burnt beyond recognition. Their bodies were taken to Egerton mortuary,” said Odumbe.

Mwangi, 36, told The Standard that his father had moved back to their grandfather’s house 10 years ago after separating from their mother who lives in Kitale.

“Recently, we received reports that our father was showing signs of mental illness. I came home on Sunday to establish what our father was going through,” said Mwangi.

He added his father was having on and off bouts of anger for unknown reasons.

On Friday, Chege warned that he would set the house on fire.

“It was around 4pm when he gave the warning but immediately retracted his statement. He assured me he wouldn’t do that. I left home to get them food. I prepared dinner for them as we watched 9pm news together,” he said.

Before the three retired to bed, Chege shouted: “It has to end now.” 

Mwangi who slept on the couch explained that he was woken up by heavy smoke coming from his father’s room.

“I found out that he had burnt his mattress and the fire was spreading to the rest of the house. I pleaded with him to leave the house in vain. A gas cylinder exploded forcing me to dash out,” he said.

He called for help from the neighbours and ran back into the house in an attempt to save his grandfather whose room had partly caught fire.

“As I was helping him out, a second gas cylinder exploded filling the house with fire. I was forced to save my life leaving them behind. Immediately I left the house, I collapsed at the doorstep,” said Mwangi.

An hour later, Mwangi would regain consciousness from a spot where the residents had moved him.

“They only managed to salvage a few clothes and furniture but my grandfather and father died. I couldn’t recognize any of their bodies when the fire was finally put out,” he said.

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