Mukono School of the blind fire: What we know so far

Security operatives from different agencies and the scene of crime officers pictured combing for vital exhibits in the soot-covered dormitory. PHOTOS | JESSICA SABANO

At least 11 pupils were on Tuesday confirmed dead and seven others fighting for their lives in hospital after fire burnt a girls’ dormitory at Salama School for the Blind in Luga Village, Ntanzi Parish, Mukono District.
As police detectives are trying piece evidences together to establish the cause of the fire that is said to have started at around midnight at the government facility, this what we have gathered so far.
The dormitory was housing primary one to three pupils, aged between seven and 10.
Preliminary information gathered by this publication also indicates that the fire started from one of the windows.
“The fire began at around midnight. It started from a window in one of the girls’ dormitories for P1 to P3,” said Mr Ernest Mwebesa, the chairperson PTA.
According to him, all the 11 victims were burnt beyond recognition and will require DNA tests for identification while the survivors sustained severe burns.
By the time our reporter arrived at the school, security operatives from different agencies had cordoned it off and the scene of crime officers were seen combing for vital exhibits in the soot-covered dormitory.

Some parents seen picking their children from school.

At the school, distressed parents and relatives of the victims were seen chatting in school groups as they waited for updates from authorities as police loaded charred bodies of the victims into waiting ambulances.
One of the parents whose particulars were not readily available by the time of filing this story fainted moments after arriving at the school premises before she was evacuated to hospital in an ambulance.
“We can’t tell the source of the fire. We feel so saddened by this incident. It's very unfortunate. The numbers of the victims are still not clear. I visited the hospital (Herona Hospital in Kisoga Town) and I found the survivors being prepared to be transferred to Mulago and Kiruddu hospital for better treatment,” Mr Mwebesa who had just picked his daughter from the school said.
Minister of State for Disability Affairs, Hellen Grace Asamo who was also at the scene told this publication that the windows of the dormitory had burglar proofs, contrary to the government policy on boarding schools.
“The windows had burglar proofs. And this is against government policy on boarding schools. The windows are not supposed to have burglar proofs,” she said.
This perhaps explains the relatively higher number of fatalities and injuries.
Three of the girls are said to have escaped from crammed dormitory unhurt.
“I was also told that when the matron saw the fire, she ran out and abandoned the children. That’s also something we’re investigating,” the minister said.
The pupils, some of whom come from as far as Ntungamo and Isingiro districts, are expected to sit their primary leaving examinations in two weeks and that’s why authorities said they cannot close the school at the momemnt.
“We cannot close the school given that we don’t have any alternative to it. These kids are supposed to sit their PLE in two weeks’ time. We appeal to parents who are picking these kids to return the after two or three days because they also need counselling,” Mukono Resident District Commissioner, Ms Fatuma Ndisaba said shortly after attending a security meeting at the school.
She said they had asked police to deploy more officers at the facility and also sought financial assistance from the Office of the Prime Minister to help in the DNA tests and burial expenses of the victims.
"There were 21 pupils in the dormitory. Seven admitted with severe burns. Three managed to escape the fire. In the security meeting we have just had with the police heads, we resolved to ask the office of the prime minister for help, given that this is a government school. When I called her (Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja) in the morning she responded well. Some children come from far away districts like Insingiro and Ntungamo. The bodies have been burnt beyond recognition. We shall do a DNA to help identify them,” Ms Ndisaba.
One of the parents said he coincidentally got to know about the fire when he called to ask about the parents’ visitation day that had been scheduled on Sunday.
The school was also in preparation for the planned visit of the deceased Queen Elibeth’s daughter, Princess Anne who’s on October 28, 2022.
The school was founded by government in April 1999 with a vision of bringing services nearer to parents of visually impaired children.


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