Several properties worth millions of shillings were on Tuesday morning destroyed by fire that burned down a market in the centre of Rubaare town Ntungamo district.
The market constructed mainly by timber housed several shops including telephone booth and telephone accessories shops, restaurants, charcoal stores, video halls, timber stores, food-stores and other general merchandise were destroyed in fire.
The fire reportedly began in a small restaurant on a charcoal stove left burning by the tenant in the market commonly known as Kamwokya.
“A girl who was in the next house of the restaurant came running out with a burnt arm and told us that she had seen fire from within the restaurant before it came to her shop, she said a charcoal stove may have fallen down and fell on charcoal in the corner of the restaurant.” A witness, Ms. Prima Aturinda said.
The Ntungamo district police commander Mr. Baker Kawonawo blamed the escalation of fire on the oil products stored inside the wooden stalls yet police and local authorities had earlier warned the residents about.
“We have always advised these people to avoid keeping fuel in their houses but seems was all in vain. If there was no fuel, we would have at least managed to contain the fire because we were near the place.” Mr. Kawonawo said, adding that police will investigate the cause of the fire and make recommendations for security and safety measures.
At the time of the accident, police had assembled at Rubaare stadium, at least 500 meters from the burnt market for a community policing to launch a series of activities towards the October 3rd centenary cerebration to mark the beginning of the Uganda police force.
Activities including cleaning of Rubaare town and health centre, demonstration of firefighting and rescue skills and other community activities together with crime preventers and local council heads had been planned, but were short-lived due to the fire.
They reached the scene about 3 minutes after it had started but their fire truck ran shortage of water.
However 30 minutes later, another fire truck was called in to help put out the fire.
However, the Rubaare sub county female councilor to Ntungamo District council, Ms. Peace Kaconco said the stalls had been illegally installed in the place and efforts to secure the area by both the council and police had failed over resistance by traders.
“While we sympathize with the losses encountered, these people had been prior to the accident warned, the centre was illegally set up, both the council minutes and the planners had resisted, these people set up stalls and ignored security arrangements. Something must be done.” Ms. Kaconco said.