Police in Kampala is investigating circumstances under which fire gutted Ham shopping mall located in Nakivubo and properties worth millions burnt to ashes today morning.
According to eyewitnesses, the strong fire, which is suspected to have been planned, started at around 5:30am from one of the tailoring shops on the first floor and burnt three shops.
“We were just walking to Owino market to make some early shopping and we saw some smoke from Ham Shopping mall. We thought they were burning rubbish as they normally do,” says Kiizito one of the traders adding they continued to Owino market.
Kiizito says after some minutes the smoke increased and they suspected some serious problem in the shopping mall. He added they went to Ham Shopping mall but found the gate closed at 6 am and saw the fire from the corner.
“The fire was serious and we could not have access to the shopping mall to stop it,” he says adding that they made an alarm that gathered hundreds of people. He says they called police fire brigade but responded after one hour.
“We called police when one shop was just burning but it delayed and came after one hour,” says another trader who was at the scene. He added the first police truck that came failed to penetrate the shopping mall and went back.
He says another fire brigade truck came managed to penetrate the shopping mall to put off the fire. “Police put out the fire but three shops which had properties worth millions of shillings were already burnt,” another trader who operates from Ham shopping mall said.
Patrick Onyango the police spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan confirmed the fire and said investigations have started. “It is true fire gutted Ham shopping mall in Owino and some properties worth millions of shillings were lost,” confirmed Onyango.
He added that the fire started at around 5:30am and was put off by police fire brigade at around 6:30am. He says the preliminary investigations show that the fire started in one of the tailoring shops and later spread to other shops.
“One of tailoring shops left an electric sowing machine on, it heated and exploded which sparked off the fire,” says Onyango during an interview with Spyreports at his office based at Central Police Station.
He added that the fire brigade truck was useless because it could not penetrate the burning area. “The truck had no where to pass because of the poor building plan of the shopping mall so we sent it back and brought another one that penetrated and put off the fire,” he revealed.
He says some statements were recorded which will help police in investigations. However, this is not the first time Owino is burnt.
For the last ten years, Owino market has been burnt several times and billions of shillings in properties lost but no fire report has ever been released. The public has always said government had idea about the fire.