BY COAST CORRESPONDENT
A morning inferno that broke out in Malindi razed down over 500 privately owned villas by local and foreigners causing unknown damages estimated at millions of shillings.
The huge fire that reduced the makuti thatched roofs caught everybody by surprise forcing the proprietors and their workers struggling to put out it down while others rescued some of their belongings from the burning villas.
Billowing smoke and dust taking into the sky saw hundreds of thousands of local onlookers rushed to witness what was happening while neighbours flocked at the Caurisana area to assist in putting out the fire using buckets by scooping the swimming pool water available within the villas.
The fire that was spreading so fast overwhelmed the Kilifi County Fire Department as security personnel including Kenya Defence Forces (KDF), the DCI and regular police officers stood guard to ensure rescue operations were conducted smoothly while guarding victims’ properties.
Irate youths that had invaded the area to loot were repelled by the vigilante and alert security forces as some of the villas owners like Ray Johari who owned Twiga in the sun resort lost everything at his hotel although his guests were safe.
“I am yet to come to terms with what has happened but I have lost everything and fire gutted down into ashes,” he said adding that he opened this hotel just a year ago and now it had been consumed by fire.
Narrating the ordeal, a gardener, Masha Bambanya, said the fire started at around 11 am and spread so fast from one villa to another sparking pandemonium as workers and clientele scampered for safety.
“What I saw was an electric spark (not confirmed) before the fire started and if the fire fighters had responded faster, we could have saved some of the villas,” he added.
An Italian tourist, Silvana Testa, was still in shock following the incident that she blamed the authorities for failing to have disaster response team to handle such incidents.
“There was no response at all every time there is fire only the locals take part in putting it out,’’ she said.
At the same time, a Mr Abdulrahman slammed the County government for failing to provide enough fire engines in the area to deal with cases of fire incidents promptly saying it must invest in firefighting equipment.
This incident comes as tourists were preparing themselves to celebrate the Easter holiday in the Malindi resort villas before jetting back to their countries.