The Gakinjiro wood and furniture market was yet again gutted by fire on Tuesday after a major inferno broke out in one of the shops in the commercial centre located in Gisozi Sector in Gasabo District.
It is not the first time the one-stop centre for wood and construction materials has been affected by a blaze over the past two years.
The fire which broke out at around 9am in the workshop owned by ADARWA Cooperative, claimed goods worth over Rwf400 million, which included wood products, mattresses, cupboards, doors and wood cutting machines.
Eye witnesses told Kigali Today that the fire was started by sparks from a nearby wielding activity, which fell on highly flammable mattresses, starting off the fire.
Rwanda National Police dispatched three fire trucks and fire fighters but it took more than an hour and a half to contain the flames which were escalated by dry wood, saw dust and mattresses, which created a highly flammable combination.
“They were wielding and the sparks fell on mattresses which also had plastic bags and the fire started. It became difficult to contain it because the materials were highly flammable,” a witness who identified himself as Mohammed Iyamuremye, said.
Several people attempted to put out the fire but it was spreading quickly and the smoke became too much, overwhelming their efforts.
Earlier rumours had indicated that the fire was started by an angry former employee who had not been paid for the work done but the claim was dismissed. Others claimed that the fire was started by a short circuit during a metal fabrication exercise.
Police said however investigations were still ongoing to determine the cause. Business owners in Gakinjiro appealed to Police to deploy a full time fire engine at the location to avert possible fires before they escalate.
“This is not the first time it has happened. We request Police to bring a permanent fire truck here as it has done in other places in town because a fire can break out anytime, given the flammable materials sold here,” Alexander Nshimiyimana said.
In June 2019, fire broke out in the same area and destroyed goods valued at over Rwf2 billion, leaving traders grouped under APARWA, an association of wood dealers, counting heavy losses.