Alfred Juma, an aspiring politician, said he heard loud noise from a gas cylinder in a warehouse next to his house. “I started waking up neighbors asking them to leave,” Juma said.
He said he warned a black car not to drive through the area, but the driver insisted and his vehicle stalled because of the fumes. “He attempted to start the car three times and that’s when there was an explosion and the fire spread into the (warehouse) setting off other explosions.”
He said he grabbed two children and they hid in a sewage ditch until the explosions ended. His family had not been present, but Juma lost everything he owned in the fire.
“Police were turning away everyone and so it was difficult to access my house and I had to seek a place to sleep until this morning,” neighbor Caroline Karanja said. She said the smell and smoke were still choking, and she would have to stay away for a while because she had young children.
Police and the Kenya Red Cross reported three deaths. The toll may rise after daybreak, said Wesley Kimeto, the Embakasi police chief.
The government and Red Cross said 271 people were taken to several hospitals with injuries.
The proximity of the industrial company to residences raised questions about enforcement of city plans. Officials at the county government have been accused of taking bribes to overlook building codes and regulations.