Students count losses as fire guts dormitory

Parents pitch camp at the entrance of Bilal Islamic Primary School in Kawempe Division in Kampala yesterday after the management blocked them from entering following a fire on Sunday (February 27, 2022) night. PHOTO/ FRANK BAGUMA

What you need to know:

  • Police attribute the fire to sparks from the electricity lines that spread to other parts of the dormitory.

Students of Bilal Islamic Secondary School in Bwaise, Kawempe Division, Kampala, were by yesterday still getting to terms with the loss of their property after a fire gutted two boys’ dormitories on Sunday night.

This is the second fire to break out at a school in a space of one week after another one gutted Good Times Infant School in Kawaala, Rubaga Division, leaving one pupil dead. However, there was no death reported at Bilal.

Bilal Islamic schools on Mambule Road comprise primary and secondary with day and boarding sections.

But the fire only gutted  the boys’ dormitory belonging to Senior One and Senior Two students at around 9pm.

School authorities yesterday declined to speak to journalists about the incident and kept them outside the school premises.

Some of the school officials, who declined to be named, alleged that the fire could have been caused by arsonists who attempted to burn the school in 2019 after visitation day.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Luke Owoyesigyire told journalists yesterday that the fire was caused by sparks from the electricity lines and spread to other parts of the dormitory.

“The fire was caused by sparks from electricity and luckily, no fatalities were registered as pupils were out of the dormitory and had gathered for the evening prayers,’’ he said.

Sunday was a visitation day for Senior Four and Senior Six students. 

However, this newspaper couldn’t independently verify the claims.

Video clips shared on social media on Sunday night showed a blazing furnace inside the dormitory with hazy smoky skies across the school.

Detectives were by yesterday afternoon still inspecting the school to establish the cause of the inferno.
The Muslim faithful thronged the area to commiserate with the school but were denied access into the premises, and so were parents.

Parents expressed concern over the rising cases of fire outbreaks in schools, saying it puts the lives of learners at risk.
“School owners should put measures in place to fight any fire outbreak to protect our children because such incidents keep us worried,” said Ms Hadijah Nalubwama, a parent.

Our spot-check found that Bilal schools are surrounded by timber stores, car garages  and a fuel station, which are a danger to students’ lives.

The division mayor, Mr Emmanuel Sserunjogi, tasked Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) directorate of education and social services to start making inspections across all city schools to ascertain their safety in terms of electricity installation.

“It is unfortunate but I think as an authority, we need to heighten inspections to ascertain whether all power installations in schools meet the standards because this is not the first incident where a school guts fire,” Mr Sserunjogi said.

The KCCA’s director of education and technical services, Ms Juliet Nambi Namuddu, said they will work with the school authorities and detectives to establish the cause of the fire and take action.

Ms Namuddu said all students were asked to leave the school premises until further notice to pave way for investigations.

Timber store destroyed 

Sources also said there was another fire outbreak around the school, which gutted one of the timber stores behind the boys’ dormitories.

This information was corroborated by at least three traders who run timber stores on Mambule Road. No student was affected by this incident.