A fire gutted a room in a hostel at the University of Rwanda’ College of Arts and Social Sciences (UR CASS) in Huye District, yesterday, destroying hundreds of thousands worth of property.
No students were injured in the blaze.
Eyewitness accounts blame the fire on a hot flat iron that was accidentally placed on a mattress.
The fire, which occurred at a female hostel, locally known as ‘Benghazi’ at 4:30, destroyed all the equipment in the room, including scholastic materials, clothes and beddings.
The 300-room hostel, constructed in 2011, accommodates about 1,200 students.
Mukamakenga Rahabu, a first year student in political sciences, was in the room when the inferno started.
“I was lying on bed and I felt the bed burning and I heard metal bursting. There were telephones plugged on power and I think that is the cause of the fire,” she said, adding that one of her friend was ironing but,” she did not know whether she left the iron plugged in.
She said they lost everything.
“We lost mattresses and beds as well as other bed materials, scholastic materials, clothes, suite cases and identification documents. We did not salvage anything”.
She urged for assistance saying “we appeal for help us in terms of repairing the damages and getting replacement for the equipment we lost.”
UR-CASS manager Benjamin Kageruka said that the blaze was controlled due to quick thinking students. “They made concerted efforts to put out the blaze using fire extinguishers, which prevented the fire from spreading beyond that one room”.
He said the university is considering helping four students who were affected the most.
“They lost books, clothes, suitcases and mattresses and. We are considering how to help them in all this. We are going to find mattresses and accommodation for them. As the university authority, we act on behalf of their parents,” he said.
CSP Hubert Gashagaza, the Police spokesperson for the Southern Province, confirmed that the flat iron caused the fire.
He said Police would continue sensitising students and the general public about fire prevention.
“If fire catches a huge institution like that one sheltering a lot of people, it can cause a lot of damages. Therefore, we will continue to sensitise them about fire prevention. The college authorities should also avail instructions about fire prevention”, he said.