Businessmen and women from Kitgum district cried helplessly as their goods worth millions of shillings loaded in Kitgum bound trucks were being consumed in an inferno that gutted Kitgum stage in Lira on Thursday morning.
The fire that started at around 2:50am burnt down a police post, a make shift restaurant, two motor cycles and seven vehicles. Three of which were loaded with unspecified amount of merchandise belonging to Kitgum business people.
The vehicles include two FUSO Lorries registration numbers UAP 543F, UAB 149B, and a DYNA pick up number UAP 062L, a saloon car number UAF 173K, mini bus number UAF 858F and a Toyota Corona whose number could not be identified.
Also burnt was a government double cabin pick up registration UG 1756S that was travelling to Otuke district but the occupant decided to park it at the police post for safe custody for fear of travelling at night to Otuke since the road is very poor.
Paul Komakech a driver for the FUSO number UAP 543F said his vehicle was loaded with six grinding mills engines, 30 pieces of Iron sheets, 2 drums of petrol, 10 bags of cement, 7 bags of maize grains, 10 bags of rice, 5 bags of mukene fish and an assortment of merchandise.
“All these items and the lorry got burnt down and am confused not knowing what to do next,” he said.
Another driver identified as Christopher Ongun said his lorry was currying 50 bags of cement, 100 cartons of cooking oil, 40 school desk and construction materials for Akado primary school in Kitgum and a number of goods.
Lira District Police Commander, Robert Ssemata said while they could not rule out completely the work of arsonists, the information they got from residents was that an electric wire sparked and a lump of fire fell in the lorry currying two drums of petrol leading to the fire outbreak.
“It is very unfortunate because we tried all our level best to put off the fire using all means but failed since there is no firefighting equipment in this big town,” Ssemata said.
Lira RDC Susan Akany said she would request the president’s office to help procure firefighting equipment for the district so that such incidences could be contained in case it happens again.
Meanwhile shops and lock ups neighboring the scene of fire were all looted and left empty by those who disguised themselves as rescuers.
By Bonney Odongo and Vien Obote, The New Vision