Remains of vendor stalls still smoulder after a fire swept through a market in Nairobi, Kenya, June 28, 2018.
Remains of vendor stalls still smoulder after a fire swept through a market in Nairobi, Kenya, June 28, 2018.

NAIROBI, KENYA - At least 15 people have died in a fire that engulfed parts of a busy open air market Thursday in Nairobi. Officials have not yet established the cause of fire.

At daybreak Thursday, Nairobi regional coordinator Kangethe Thuku had a devastating news.

“We want to confirm and ensure the safety of those buildings. In total, 15 people are dead, one died at Mama Lucy hospital, [there are] 70 casualties, we are still looking for more people,” said Thuku.

After more than seven hours, emergency services and rescue teams had not been able to enter the buildings.

“What we are doing what we can to clear those buildings, we are suspecting that there could be certain chemicals as you can hear there are even gas cylinders which are still bursting. We want to ensure the safety and security of the rescue team,” said Thuku.

Officials say the blaze began in a timber yard before spreading to other parts of the market, including nearby apartments.

The acting head of the Kenyatta National Hospital, Thomas Mutie, said most of the injured were taken to the Kenyatta National Hospital, which is setting up a counseling center and is calling for Kenyans to donate blood.

Visiting the site of the fire, Nairobi Senator Sakaja Johnson said the frequent fires in the market need to be investigated.

“It is sad, and I feel very embarrassed and ashamed as a leader in Nairobi to come again and talk about fire in Gikomba again, we must not let it be a normal thing,” said Johnson.

This is the second time the market has caught fire in less than a year.