Nakumatt razed

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Fire fighters battle the huge fire that broke out at Nakumatt Downtown supermarket, Nairobi on Wednesday. Photo /CHRIS OJOW 

By CHURCHILL OTIENO  (email the author)
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Posted Wednesday, January 28 2009 at 17:50

In Summary

  • Business in Nairobi's central business district brought to a standstill by a massive fire at Nakumatt Downtown on Kimathi Street.
  • Security agencies mount a major emergency operation to put the fire under control.

A huge fire has consumed a popular supermarket at the centre of Nairobi resulting in loses worth millions of shillings, dozens of workers injured and the evacuation of several office blocks.

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The fire at Nakumatt Downtown at the corner of Kimathi Street and Kenyatta Avenue gutted the entire building and occasioned a major emergency operation involving several security agencies.

The facts so far:

  • Massive fire guts Woolworths Building which houses Nakumatt Downtown. Adjacent Alibhai Shariff Building also destroyed.
  • Ambulance rush dozens of the injured to various hospitals.
  • A combined force called in to fight the fire, including: Nairobi City Council Fire Brigade, Kenya Airports Authority fire fighters, G4S Fire Brigade, Kenya Air Force, Securex Fire and Kenya Police among others.
  • The fire started at around 1pm and is still being battled five hours later. Earlier a power transformer had blown.
  • Gas cylinders on sale at the supermarket and chemicals at a hardware shop in neighbouring Alibhai Shariff Building thought to have fuelled the inferno.
  • Neighbouring buildings evacuated, including Stanbic Bank, Nation Centre, Nanak Building among others.
  • Repeated blasts heard inside the building on fire.
  • Police on horseback forced to use teargas to push back curious onlookers. Most roads at the city centre are blocked.
  • Several Government officials are at the scene, including Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Internal Security minister George Saitoti, Nairobi Metropolitan minister Mutula Kilonzo and Police Commissioner Hussein Ali.
  • Traffic jams resulting from the chaos at the centre of the city has affected road users in the outskirts such as Industrial Area, Upper Hill, Thika Road and sections of Westlands.

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