Police in Kyotera District are investigating the cause of a fire that gutted a boys’ dormitory at Kyotera Infant and Primary School, four days after pupils reported for third term.
Mr Pascal Katongole, the school director, said the fire started at 8pm on Thursday evening.
“The fire started at the door of the boys’ dormitory and quickly spread to the rest of the dormitory fuelled by the highly flammable mattresses,” he said.
The devastating fire destroyed everything inside the dormitory including; mattresses, shoes, suitcases, clothes and books, among others.
He said police fire fighters didn’t show up at the school despite informing them on time.
“We tried to extinguish the blaze using water and some sand, but the biggest part of the dormitory had been burnt down and part of the roof and inner walls had collapsed,” he said.
He said the destroyed dormitory was accommodating 91 boys but by the time the incident happened, all were attending evening lessons (preps).
“We suspect this to be an act of arson because one of the pupils who was inside the toilet near the burnt dormitory heard footsteps of someone running towards the banana plantation after the incident,” he said
Kyotera District Education Officer, Mr Mathias Kigoye said there was some negligence on the part of the school administrators as only one guard was deployed to man the entire school premises.
“Such a school with a population of 450 pupils cannot have only one guard. The school administration has to take safety of students seriously,” he said.
The affected school lacks a perimeter fence despite having a boarding section.
Kyotera District Police Commander, Ms Rossette Sikahwa, said police are yet to confirm the cause of the blaze.
“We are going to interrogate the school administrators and some pupils to establish exactly what led to the inferno,” she said.
This is the second school fire to be recorded in the district in less than a year.
The most devastating school fire occurred at St. Bernard’s Secondary and Vocational School - Mannya on November 11,2018 which left 11 Senior Three students dead and over 40 injured.
Since January this year , at least nine schools have suffered fire outbreaks. The fire that gutted a girls’ dormitory at St. Jude Primary School, Kakooge, Nakasongola District which occurred on February 21 left one pupil dead and injured seven learners and a matron.
Other affected schools include; Nakaloke Islamic School-Mbale, Namirembe Hillside in Wakiso District , Ibun Baz SS –Iganga , Sembabule Parents Primary School in Sembabule District , Najjanankumbi City Academy in Makindye Division, Kampala and St. Anthony Sembabule Roman Catholic Primary School(Sembabule District).
Shockingly, the latter suffered two fire incidents in one week. On March 20, fire also gutted a boys’ dormitory at St. James Secondary School in Mubende District and destroyed property worth millions of shillings. This forced the district authorities to shut down the school’s boarding section saying it was operating illegally.