Mysterious Fire Guts School Dormitories in Gulu

More than 200 students of PP Newton High School in Unyama Sub-county in Gulu District are counting losses after losing their property to a mysterious fire that razed down their dormitories.

The fire reportedly started at about 9:30 am Friday morning in one of the boys’ dormitories before spreading to others while students were attending morning lessons. The affected buildings accommodate students in senior one up to senior six. 

Joseph Stephen Olara, a senior six student at the school told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that they saw smoke billowing from their dormitories, which were locked while they attended morning classes. 

Olara said that the cause of the fire remains unknown since the dormitories were not connected to electricity and only used solar power.   

Olara notes that he lost all his belongings in the inferno, adding that very few students managed to save their beddings and suitcases. According to Olara, at least two students were rushed to Gulu Regional Referral Hospital after suffering burns while trying to rescue their property from the burning dorms. 

He notes that five others were also taken for emergency medical attention after collapsing while observing their properties and those of their colleagues.

Denis Akem, another student in senior four says the fire lasted for about an hour before the Police fire brigade put it out. He says the damage was extensive by the time the fire was extinguished. The incident attracted dozens of parents who rushed to the school to check on the safety of their children. 

Filder Akello, one of the parents told Uganda Radio Network in an interview that there is a need for independent investigations to establish the exact cause of the fire owing to other past incidents at the school.    

She says while the school management carries out the investigations, students should be sent back home since they have nowhere to sleep and asked the government to support the affected students with bedding and scholastic materials.

Efforts to get comments from the school Headteacher Monica Lakot Anywar were futile as she was locked up in an emergency meeting with the school board and teachers. The School Board Chairperson Philip Okech confirmed that five students suffered breathing complications after inhaling smoke from the burning dormitories. 

Two of the victims were in the emergency treatment ward at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital while three were at Flama Medical Center, according to Okech. He also noted that the board members had resolved to retain the affected students at the school adding that the management has offered to provide them with bedding and scholastic materials to aid their studies and shelter. 

Okech said that they are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the inferno, saying the police are still conducting their investigations. The Aswa River Region Police Spokesperson David Ongom Mudong, said the Police are yet to ascertain the exact cause of the inferno.

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