Nakumatt Downtown on Fire

Just got back from the Nairobi  city centre where the Nakumatt Down Town branch caught fire sometime this afternoon. A good portion of the city centre is covered in smoke and we could hear the gas cylinders exploding in the fire. The part of the city where Nakumatt Down Town is located had also been cordoned off by the police and many people were standing in the streets trying to get a glipmse of what was happening. There was also a police helicopter circling the city centre and lots of ambulances going in an out of the city centre. I don’t have much information that but it looked very serious from where I was and I hope no one was harmed in the fire.

Previous post

Kenya Red Cross Kes. 1.8 Billion Famine Appeal needs the Internet.

Next post

Nakumatt Downtown fire death toll cofirmed at 20.


  1. Sam
    January 28, 2009 at 9:36 am — Reply

    Rumor has it that as soon as the auto fire alarms went on, the management ordered doors to be shut thinking that it was robbers.
    As there were shoppers and workers locked in, we can only imagine, if this counts to the number of casuals if any.

  2. ceciliah
    January 28, 2009 at 10:00 am — Reply

    I’m sorry for what have befelt you nakumatt down town, remembering that another branch at Thika also was pulled down,i’m sorry because thats where i usally come to shop and also that you have underwent loss

    kind regards

  3. Jose
    January 28, 2009 at 10:13 am — Reply

    Very sad, i hope there were no casualties. Properties destroyed, all guys have lost job there. ITS devastating lets keep praying people.

  4. kamau isaac karanja
    January 28, 2009 at 10:29 am — Reply

    now nakumatt downtown is out of order as we remember some month back they store along thika road was put down for road construction which seems to start in 10 yrs to come.our fire fighters are always late and inadeguate. the govement should do something about it

  5. Francis Nyaga
    January 28, 2009 at 10:29 am — Reply

    It is true Nakumatt downtown is on fire. The fire started around 2 hours ago and the combine effort of a number of fire fighters including the city council of Nairobi and securex group are still fighting the fire. The big challenge is that there is wind which is making it hard for the fire to cool down. The other big challenge is the small capacity of the fire fighting machines to hold lots of water wherefore the truck have to make many turns to refill which is slowing down the process.
    A large part of the premises is now collapsed and I highly doubt anything can be rescued. Have not heard any incidence of any one wounded or injured but the ambulances are plying the crowded Kenyatta avenue.
    A caution to the Kenyas ” next time such a thing happen they should not go near a burning building as it can explode and cause more casualties”

  6. Nick
    January 28, 2009 at 10:34 am — Reply

    wow, heard some of the rumours about it and googled. Your site was ranked among the top!nice work

  7. ismailudin
    January 28, 2009 at 11:18 am — Reply

    that is very astonishing but may god put it under control

  8. francis kimani macharia
    January 28, 2009 at 12:50 pm — Reply

    its true the building has been reduced to ashes and nothing has been salvaged. i think its time we need to pray heard and have the commercial fire emegency machines for such reasons,i have been there minutes ago and the rescue teams like red cross are there.

    January 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm — Reply

    what GOD can do no man can

  10. Kariss wanjama
    January 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm — Reply

    Am a photographer n av been there taking best shots with my kamera n the fire waz big due to gaz cylinders exploding!!we r sorry n we pray that nakumatt wil never collapes coz it has employed many of my friends n many kenyans

    • Mukolwe
      March 5, 2011 at 4:55 am — Reply

      Hi Kariss,
      Trust that you have been keeping well.
      I lost a loved one during the Nakumatt fire.
      I read your blog and I noticed you took some photos.
      Is it possible for you to share them? I understand it is two years back now but it is of great importance to me and so I ask.

  11. Hellen
    January 29, 2009 at 3:55 am — Reply

    The most amazing thing is that the fire station is just a few meters away yet it took them quit a while to get to Nakumatt. We need to seriously deal with our responsiveness to this kind of disasters!!

  12. Alfred Opondo
    January 29, 2009 at 9:47 am — Reply

    Fire alarms have never been used anywhere to raise alarm when thieves attack.
    What explanation does the management have for ordering all the doors closed leaving innocent kenyans to burn like wood when they are all safe.
    We are all feeling the loss but the management is answerable to the public as to why this stupid order was given and by who.
    Fire alarms detect smoke not thieves next time they should be extra careful

  13. Carolynn Wangai
    January 30, 2009 at 2:33 am — Reply

    I’m so saddened by the many missing people who were at nakumatt at the time of he tragedy. My heart goes out to their relatives and friends and i hope the City inspectorate or whoever is concerned with proper fire escapes wakes up and ensured all buildings are compliant!SURELY!!

  14. Sylvia
    January 30, 2009 at 5:11 am — Reply

    I work two buildings from where Nakumatt Downtown used to be. As soon as the fire started, the management ordered that all doors be shut even when they could see the fire. After a few minutes, the doors were opened and people got out. As much as we’re praying that there are no casualties, we cannot be oblivious to the fact that Nakumatt is one of the busiest stores in Kenya. Downtown was so convenient to many people. Of course there are casualties. Capital FM have just reported that 12 bodies have been found. We can only pray that there are no more bodies in there.

    What is shocking is that the fire department is 2 minutes away from Nakumatt Downtown but it took them at least 30 minutes to get there. I was standing on our office balcony and I saw them driving by at 3:47pm. The fire started just a few minutes past 3pm. Kenya is still not prepared for disasters even after they have happened to us several times. How many more people need to die? How long will it take?

  15. sarah
    January 30, 2009 at 6:24 am — Reply

    condolences for the relatives who are anxiously waiting for reports of their loved ones the stories just break my heart big ups to the red cross mr abbas especially those guys just try their best

  16. January 30, 2009 at 8:31 am — Reply


  17. January 30, 2009 at 8:39 am — Reply

    kenya,s lets keep on praying for those who lost their loved once to have peace and also those guys who were working their to be remployed once again when the place will be build again.

  18. January 30, 2009 at 9:03 am — Reply

    I think the kenyan people should open there minds to a more wider perspective than what we see or hear. The city council of nairobi claims its inspection officers went to inspect the building on Monday the 26th January 2009 and they were turned away by the managers at the store. sources at the council say the building was among the old building which was to be demolished to pave way for an ultra modern one.

    Hope Kenyans do remember that whenever there are companies or properties with relevant disasters there are always politicians who come incognito as Government reps. Good examples 1. the Sunbeam building which collapsed and was owned by Njenga Karume, 2 the Nyamakima constraction that also collapsed which is linked to uhuru kenyattah, 3 The workers who were trapped in in an industrial Chemical industries nearly blazing the African Heritage were David Mwiraria’s daughter works thus him being there. Now Nakumatt Down Town. please note that in every occurrence the politicians who arrive first will be always have a link to the property. in this case George saitoti, During his tenure as the Finance minister there is evidence that Nakumatt holdings evaded Taxes worth millions of shillings. There is also evidence that He is part of the owner of the Supermarket Chain store. Accompanied by Mutula kilonzo who is and was the former president Moi Lawyer. To be frank People need to visualize and read between the lines coz how come the has not been any press confrence by the management nor did the management have or set up a press briefing room to give there view and worse still the Operations Director of the stricken chain, Mr Thiagarajan Ramamurthy, dismissed the claim as “rumours”, that there were no shoppers at the time of the fire after the emergency exit bell ran. Survivors to this horror Say that the Guards at the door had closed down the grill so as shoppers don’t leave without paying only to realize too late that the Raging Inferno was a damn serious one. yes the city council may be ill equipped but should the building also have fire fighting cylinders especially near the generator room and inside the store. should the store also have sprinklers and smoke detectors?

    Trully the question we should be asking is? was the building Blown intentionally since it will be payed by the Insurance company will pay and they may still construct another chain?

    How many generators have just exploded and the managers dont contain the Fire explosion?

    Why were workers taken all the way to Geivanjee Gardens for a head count?

    What were the workers told after the head count?

    How come the management has not called a press conference to brief the media and also to answer some of these questions?

    What was the reason of sounding the alarm for an emergency exit and the guards preventing the shoppers to exit since they had pulled down the burglar metal door.

    Was the fire intentional ????????????????????

    There are still alot but its sad when we kenyans are taken for a ride. There are alot of families who have been dented by this tragedy.

    For the families Pole Kwa Msiba.

  19. NKATHA D
    January 31, 2009 at 1:25 pm — Reply

    Iam in great shock on hearing the Nakumatt fire news,A caution to all employers/security companies-they need to train all their staff, no matter what position they hold and what roll they play.Basis like what is to be done when there’s a fire alarm, different alarms rings,and very fisrt step to be done.
    I believe the boss giving orders to close doors when there’s a fire alarm, is “a totally unqualified/un trained boss”
    I work in an indusrty where we have emergency drill every year, and i think all companies should practice this-It could have avoided almost all the deaths and injuries.
    If the security guards at the door were well trained by there mother companies, then they should have known the boss giving orders was wrong!!
    Sorry for the loss of lives, we shall mourn and pray with you.

    on basics

  20. Hellen
    February 1, 2009 at 11:00 am — Reply

    Pam, Thank you for the detailed analysis, its quit eye opening and informative. We are so arrogant about some of the facts.
    I very much agree, Nakumatt Holdings should be held accountable 100%, and mostly for refusing to let the council inspect the building, though the council should have shut down the premises immediately their officers were turned away.

  21. Albert
    February 1, 2009 at 11:16 am — Reply

    Why is it that most Kenyan scandals have a political angle to them. Its such a pity that Nakumatt with all the profits it has been recording could not afford to make sure that its workers operate in a safe working environment. I had been to Nakumatt Downtown offices deep inside the Woolworths building and I was shocked. The place was dirty, the toilets barely worked and I could see that basic safety measures were not if ever followed.
    For the families involved, I pray that you find peace and although suing Nakumatt would not bring back your loved ones,its going to bring them back to their senses and start taking care of their most important resource, their workers.

  22. February 2, 2009 at 8:14 am — Reply

    Its very strange whenever the teachers are on strike some disaster strikes the city…remember the bomb blast.could be a curse–The fellows who have died in Nakuru tankers inferno needs sympathy but some of the shoppers in the mall should not have died if the gaurds were a litle bit senseble to leave doors open.
    Hope its an eye opener and Raila should be reminded the people who were burnt in Eldoret church fire needs attention just as the fellows who were scooping fuel in the Nakuru inferno

  23. eunice
    February 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    well im reading about this from work all the way in the usa.nd it jus makes me shed,…its really sad pple lost they lives but i wanna know wtf is wrong with the stupid muhindi that ordered for those doors to be shut??was he inside the building himself?…im sure not!!!it really hurts to kno that somebody somewhere values money more than human lives.that is really sad…im sorry so many pple have lost loved ones in the last one week…well as we mourn our cherished ones lets not forget to thank God for the loves we had wit em….well may God bless kenya coz east or west home is best.

  24. wairimu
    February 4, 2009 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    Am in shock and angry! Pam thanks for your insight! and if that be the case let politician involved and all the other vampires know that,they will not escape judgment day! they can plan and plot all they want causing innocent lives and mourning to poor people all for filthy dirty money but The Most High creator also plans!And His is the perfect plan!

  25. aggrey
    February 7, 2009 at 5:00 am — Reply

    the hardest thing to find are words to fit in this space; but lets remember certain things,a. No country is ever prepared for disasters even Israel with its divine providence and sophisticated culture cannot be prepared for disasters. That is the tragedy..that no matter what you do..or where you go..Murphys Law will always apply. The only pieces we can pick up from this disaster is..let us build our places of residence,work, worship, play to respect the laws of the land and then we can sleep, work, play, shop, pray knowing that if the roof caves in on us we may not save the building but we can save ourselves.Note to ponder perhaps every building should have fire doors that collapse on force..(City By Laws and ordinances) to allow people escape in case of fire. The fact that Majiwa, Kibaki, Raila, Aggrey(Me), knew this and shopped around Nakumatt for decades without a care that they may not have had fire exits is a judgement on us all..not just the management of Nakumatt. We were all to comfortable and were caught napping..we can and need to change this and should do so now…after all that is what a democratic society is about..taking responsibility for our actions or lack of them. Every hang joint in Kenya is in danger..Tacos, Nandos, 90% of the chips shops on Moi Avenue. The time to ask our councillors, M.P’S, Entrepreneurs, Our neighbours, and ourselves is now…Where are your health and safety audit certificates( Issued by the Directorate of Health and Safety at the Ministry of Labor) so as to know for sure..are we safe even from ourselves.

  26. guyo habib
    February 15, 2009 at 3:40 am — Reply

    I am very sorry for those who lost their live.May the almighty Allah rest them in peace.


  27. June 16, 2009 at 8:20 am — Reply

    the management have for ordering all the doors closed leaving innocent kenyans to burn like wood when they are all safe.washindwe

  28. April 26, 2011 at 7:28 am — Reply

    Its so sad that people are so materialistic,they value money more than the lives of innorcent people,how can someone order the door to be closed in case of emergency. I feel for those who lost their love ones. I hope God will open our eyes.This mostly go the indians who operates business in Kenya,lives are more important than those businesses you are operating,you should have respect for Kenyans.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.