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Fire Guts Jinja Hotel

December 17, 2004
Kampala

THE Jinja Nile Resort Hotel was yesterday gutted by a fire which reduced the multi-billion complex to rubble.

The main hotel block that housed the reception, offices, the main bar, the dinning hall, the kitchen, the housekeeping department, the health club, the accounts section, and one of three conference halls was turned into ashes. The fire broke out mid-afternoon.


World Food Programme (WFP) staff were holding a retreat at the time of the fire. None of the delegates, drawn from East Africa, was injured.

Financial controller Rakesh Pant said 72 WFP delegates had just had their lunch when the fire broke out.

"The fire started from the health club, raced to the residents' bar, before spreading to the kitchen. By the time the Police came, the fire was all over the place," Rakesh said.

The Fire Brigade and Kakira Sugar Works fire fighters tried without much success to contain the ravaging fire as the workers looked on helplessly.

Drivers scrambled to drive away vehicles with diplomatic numbers from the burning structure. The hotel guards battled hard to keep away civilians out to loot property. But some looters sneaked away with computers and cooking utensils.

Jinja Police chief Daniel Zeba did not say what caused the fire. "We reached the scene as soon as we were contacted but I told my staff to concentrate on the cooking gas cylinder because had it exploded, the entire hotel would have caught fire," Zeba said.

The US$15m (sh27b) Four-Star establishment was commissioned in 2000. It had 90 luxurious cottages, three spacious conference rooms, a swimming pool and a tennis court.

Rakesh said the loss could be in billions of shillings.

He said the fire had disorganised the hotel programmes especially during the coming Christmas season.

WFP regional director for East and Central Africa, Arthur Holdbrook, who was at the hotel, said, "It is absurd because the retreat began today and was to end on Saturday."

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