Wildfire razes 32 huts in Napak

Monday January 30 2012

Residents look on helplessly after fire gutted their huts at the weekend .

Residents look on helplessly after fire gutted their huts at the weekend . Photo by Steven Ariong 

By Steven Ariong

Residents of Lomerimong village, Nawaikorot Parish in Napak District, at the weekend were left homeless after a wildfire destroyed at least 32 grass-thatched houses.

The fire according to the parish chief, Mr Juma Rajab Kelia, started at around 4pm when most of the locals were not home. “The fire got only the elderly who could not manage to put it out because other residents had gone to sell firewood in Kangole Trading Centre in order to get what to eat,” he said.

Mr Keila said the fire also destroyed household property worth millions of shillings. Ms Mary Nagit, who was at home when the fire broke out, blamed it on the strong winds.

“We couldn’t help ourselves, the wind was very strong,” she said. Mr James Lokol, another victim, said: “Getting grass and poles at this time is quite difficult since the dry season has begun.”

He appealed to the government and well-wishers to support the affected families, saying they had suffered massive losses. The officer in-charge of criminal investigation department in Napak, Mr Michael Ilukol, confirmed the incident and described it as very unfortunate.

Mr Ilukol suspected that the fire could have been started by locals who were hunting for rats. The district chairperson, Mr Joseph Lomonyang, said he will write to the Uganda Red Cross and the World Food Programme to give support to the affected families.

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Mr Lomonyang warned the residents against burning bushes in order to hunt rats, saying the district council would make by-laws governing the environment.
The destruction of houses comes just weeks since a similar fire killed two people in Abim District.

The district authorities had earlier warned residents to stop bush burning, citing dangers such as houses catching fire. Meanwhile, the authorities at Pian-Upe game reserve are also battling devastating wildfires that have destroyed the game reserve.

The wildfire reportedly started by poachers has also destroyed most of the savannah in the 2,788 square-kilometre game reserve which stretches from Ngariam in Katakwi to Amudat close to the Kenyan border.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com

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