Over ten shops were burnt down at Chemaner trading center in Bomet East Sub County during a 4pm incident in which traders are counting losses.
The fire broke out some minutes before 4pm at one of the shops before spreading quickly to other shops nearby.
A trader at the center Mr. Jonnah Rotich said they heard loud sparks from the shop where the fire started before smoke billowed out.
“In less than five minutes, the fire spread quickly through the timber built shops fanned by the windy weather,” Rotich narrated.
He said their attempts to put out the fire were futile as water scarcity at the center frustrated their efforts.
“A few traders at the centre managed to rescue a few goods but people feared to get trapped in the fierce fire only opting to watch our shops burn down from a safe distance,” a shop owner Bernard Rop said.
Disaster management officers arrived at the scene more than 30 minutes after the fire started.
Locals decried the slow response saying the fire could have been contained before spreading.
County disaster officer Mr. Stanley Mutai said they responded on time but the distance to the scene took most of their time.
Mutai said no one was injured during the incident but property of unknown value was destroyed.
Some of the affected traders have appealed to the county government to intervene and compensate them to enable them start new businesses.
One Victor Koech said if the county through the emergency kitty will not intervene, locals would be force to depend on neighbouring centers to buy their daily needs.
“All the active shops were destroyed and the center has literally been silenced. The county government should give compensation as a matter of urgency,” he added.
Koech said they were also considering taking Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) to court for compensation over their negligence.
“We want investigations to confirm the electric fault and Kenya Power will be forced to meet the losses as well,” he added.
By Joseph Obwocha