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Five Mak students admitted as fire guts Mary Stuart Hall

The fire started from the ground floor. Photo: courtesy 

At least five female students have been admitted at Makerere University hospital following an early morning fire that gutted the university's largest female hall of residence, Mary Stuart Hall. 

One of the injured students is identified as Rosette Kyokunzire who received injuries on her eye and head as she attempted to jump to save her life. Hall residents say the fire started at around 4am from a canteen on the first floor of the 14-storey building.

The fire was first noticed by female students who were coming from a night club. Mark Adit, a student and resident of the neighbouring male students' hall, Lumumba was among the first people to reach the scene following loud cries by female students in the hall. 

He says that by the time rescue teams arrived, a number of students were jumping off the upper floors of the tower since the ground floor was already gutted.

"We were the first bunch of boys, we arrived here at around 6am. We heard the noise coming from the girls. Actually, this place is locked at around midnight and they open at 6am. So there are girls who come from out earlier before 6am, so they sit and wait around here before they can open for them.
It is these girls who were here who started screaming and the girls who were in their rooms started coming out and made more noise. We came over and we saw girls jumped over but good enough the fire injured no one. The only injuries we have are for those who jumped. Some jumped from third, some jumped from D, J but they are receiving immediate attention," said Adit.

Adit says because the hall did not have any fire extinguishers at the time of the fire and that they rushed to St. Augustine and St. Francis chapels where prayers being conducted to secure fire extinguishers to put out the fire. 

"This whole place was gutted by fire, no fire extinguisher, no policeman was at the scene, no one was here. As boys, we started fetching water to stop the fire but it was too much. We had to rush to [nearby] St Francis, those people were very good. They helped us with their fire extinguisher.
We found them praying but they had to hold their prayers and joined us and we started fighting the fire. Reaching the Main Building, they refused to give us the fire extinguisher claiming they have to first talk to their bosses. Good enough the Fire Brigade were later here to stop the fire." added Adit.  
Adit says though he neighbouring Lumumba hall has the fire extinguishers, they are usually locked up in a store. 
Doreen Nyanjura, the Makerere University KCCA Woman councillor says they looked for ladders to help students move out of the hall since the ground floor was already in flames. 
"It was really unfortunate, the fire started at around 4am, personally I was here by 5am and we tried to reach out to some other friends to come out and help. Others started bringing ladders to help the students come down because the fire started from the ground floor.
There was no way those up could come down. It was really terrifying but we really appreciate the efforts by the residents who sleep around and the boys from Lumumba hall because they really played a crucial role," said Nyanjura. 

Christine Ainembabazi, a resident of Mary Stuart, who was in the hall at the time of fire claims the fire was sparked off by the electricity. She says police fire brigade only arrived at the scene at 7am.

"We all woke up and all of a sudden we saw the fire, it was at the canteen side and then part of the TV room. It burnt down everything. It was because of the concrete they used to build that floor that saved everything on the tower. But then smoke was a lot…Some people were up there and they told them to stay there. After some time police arrived and used that liquid stuff to stop the fire."
AIGP Joseph Mugisa, the director fire prevention and rescue services described as ""heroic" save from police fire brigade. 
"This was a heroic job that was done to confine the fire to the ground floor, the point of origin. It basically started from those small canteens and it was trying to spread towards the other side... It is highly commendable to the fire fighting team that came here.
There is no death and everyone is accounted for. Basically, whatever was on the upper floors has been saved…but otherwise the other side of the canteen, damage has been much. What we’re concerned with is, we have saved this important building and its structural integrity has remained," said Mugisa. 
In a statement released by the police spokesperson, SSP Emilian Kayima, seven firefighting trucks were dispatched to put off the massive fire which stated in the canteen on ground floor. According to Kayima, three female students were injured as they were escaping. 
"The hall is safe now save for the ground floor that is littered with debris and will need cleaning and some repairs. The investigation teams and Scenes of Crimes Officers are on ground to do that bit of the investigation," Kayima said.
Mary Stuart Hall also commonly known as "box" due to its physical structure was completed in 1953 and is the largest female hall at Makerere University. It can accommodate more than 200 students when fully occupied. 


+3 #1 Bisoboza 2018-05-27 17:55
And what does the University Security Officer and Administrators have to say about the fire incident?

What mitigation measures did the University itself have for either prevention or fighting fire?

Given the size of the institution, one would expect the University to have inbuilt capacity to appropriately manage fire and such other incidents.

Judging from what has been reported, the initial response was grossly inadequate..
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+1 #2 Zaitun 2018-05-28 09:46
As a big Institution of Learning, Makerere University should by now have A Fire Brigade Station in place.

What is the use of having para military and heavily mechanized military barracks everywhere as if we are on the verge of waging a war?

Be pragmatic when human life is in question. We are dealing with Security matters that affect the whole establishment- students, academic staff, workers whose lives should be cherished.

Poor planning is everywhere in Uganda today. Secondary schools, shops, now a University Hall of Residence.... get burned and our politicians do not mind at all!! Where are we really?
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+1 #3 Lakwena 2018-05-29 10:28
Quoting Zaitun:
As a big Institution of Learning, Makerere University should by now have A Fire Brigade Station in place. ...

Poor planning is everywhere in Uganda today. Secondary schools, shops, now a University Hall of Residence.... get burned and our politicians do not mind at all!! Where are we really?

You are on the money Zaitun. The size (buildings) and population of Makerere University is that of a municipality, therefore a Fire Station is a must.

Unfortunately that's not the African way of thinking. Public and private safety is not priority.

In other words, we are better off sorry than safe. As a result even at the minimum; most public buildings don't have fire hydrants, extinguishers, not even a bucket sand.
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