By Aloysius Byamukama
SHEEMA - The school administration of Ryakasinga Centre for Higher Education (CHE) in Sheema district has been blamed for a Thursday morning fire that gutted a whole dormitory.
The region’s fire department said the school did not have any fire safety measures installed and insisted the school administrators should have been better prepared.
Nothing could be salvaged after the massive blaze destroyed all the students’ property.
It is the third school fire reported in only less than three weeks.
On Tuesday, three students of Mbale Comprehensive High School were killed after a fire started in their dormitory as they slept. No official information on the cause of that fire is available yet but one account indicated that it could have been an act of vengeance by a group of suspended students.
Another similar incident occurred at Kibuli Secondary School earlier this month, with this particular fire blamed on a possible electrical circuit.
One of the students managed to salvage a sh10,000 note from the pile of destruction but clearly, there was little to smile about. PHOTO/Aloysius Byamukama
In the latest incident, students had gone for early morning preps, and the fire is said to have started just after 6am local time (EAT).
No student was in the dormitory, one of three dormitories on the same building (Prof. Kamuntu block), at the time of the incident.
The whole block was housing 191 male students.
Regional Fire Department officer for Greater Bushenyi Warren Nyitundinda said he was shocked to find no fire-fighting equipment of any kind at the school.
“They do not have any fire extinguisher, not even serious security personnel at the school. If they had fire extinguishing gadgets, the extent of the damage wouldn’t have reached that far,” he told reporters at the school.
He said he has discussed the matter with the school administrators and has directed them to install necessary equipment for emergencies of such nature.
The actual cause of the fire has not been established yet.
Some of the students, from the lower classes, have been sent back home. PHOTO/Aloysius Byamukama
The teacher in charge of the burnt dormitory, Enock Bashaija, said he was one of the first people to get to the scene as the fire got more furious. He said he got a whiff of petrol fumes around, which led him to suspect it was the work of an outsider.
Sheema district police commander Ezekiel Emitu-Ebapu said they are looking for clues to the cause of te fire and that security personnel have been deployed around the school and in the neighboring areas to calm the mostly worried students.
All Senior One, Two and Three students were sent home following the incident with only the candidates (Senior Four and Six) and Senior Five students remaining to sit their Mock exams.
The school’s head teacher was away on the morning of the fire, but his deputy Polly Agaba who was in the school, said they tried to put out the fire using water in buckets but the ferocious flames proved too much for them.
“We made an alarm and called everyone to fetch water from the nearby sources with the students’ buckets, but all our efforts were overpowered,” he said.
By the time police fire fighters arrived at the scene, the fire had done its destructive work.
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