Fires kill five people at weekend

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Five people were at the weekend burnt to death in two separate incidents.

Three deaths were reported in Kalungu District in an incident police suspect was carried out by arsonists.

Police identified the dead as Mary Namutebi, 70, and her two granddaughters Eron Katana, 15, and Wilson Gwerende, 4.

The three, who were already in bed by past midnight, were locked in the house before it was set on fire on Saturday night, police said.

Southern Region Police Spokesperson Noah Sserunjogi said the arsonists also set on fire two shrines and a kitchen, killing animals kept in stable.

“No suspects have been arrested yet but investigations are still ongoing. There is Namutebi’s grandson who was not among the dead yet he was living in the same house. We are looking for him to help us with the investigations,” Mr Sserunjogi said.

He added that the detectives are also looking at the clues that arsonists may have targeted the family because of allegations that they were practising witchcraft.

Increasing cases
“We have been getting so many cases that are related to witchcraft in the area and so many people have been victims. This one may be one of them,” the police spokesperson said.

Fires are on the increase in the country and the Chief Fire Master, Mr Joseph Mugisa, has warned of more this year.

At least 31 people died and 37 were injured in 1,202 fires reported in the country last year, according to Mr Mugisa.
Like in many fire incidents, Masaka Police did not respond to the Kalungu fire due to human resource and equipment challenges.

The fire department still has human resource challenges to respond to fire emergencies. They have 200 officers yet they need 1,000 officers to respond to fires around the country, according to the Force’s reports.

They also have 15 fire stations countrywide against the 60 stations needed to effectively respond to all fire incidents.

However, it is the obligation of the local governments to respond to fire according to the Local Government Act but not more than three districts have a fire engine in the country.