Seven family members burnt to death

Seven family members burnt to death

6 January 2009

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Uganda — Tragedy struck Pader district yesterday when seven family members were burnt to death by a bush fire in Ojile village in Pajule, Aruu county.

The seven people burnt at about 1:00pm yesterday, were identified as Pirigina Akullu, 65 and her daughter Rose Adong, 40.

Others were Adong’s children Ajok Nancy, 18, Gladys Akello, 8, three- year-old twins George Opio and Joyce Acen and Charles Okot, aged two.
Adong’s husband, Bosco Okello, is a UPDF soldier based in Gulu. The family had gone to visit Adong’s mother Akullu when tragedy struck.

Police and medical officers inspect the bodies in the burnt bushes at Pajule.The officer in charge of Pajule Police station, Jackson Odokopira said: “The family of seven had gone to harvest peas (lapena) from their garden when a wild fire engulfed and burnt them to death. Only one boy from the family escaped.”

“We still do not know the cause of the fire but we are investigating to find out the person or people who could have started it and have them arrested and prosecuted,” Odokopira explained.
At the scene, the police had to calm down relatives who were wailing.

The Police chiefs who visited the scene included the crime chief at Pajule police station, Julius Mugerwa and Levy Ojuk from the legal department in Kampala.

According to the Pader woman MP, Franka Judith Akello, the fire could have been started by hunters who were looking for edible rats and other wild animals.

“Many of these bush fires are being lit by hunters who look for wild animals and edible rats. They are burning the grass that our people are using to thatch their new homes in the villages.

“I think it’s time Pader district local leaders came up with a resolution to deal with the hunters,” Akello stated.

“By the time they saw the fire from a distance and began running, they had already been encircled by the wild flames and they could not escape.”
“Only one boy identified as Okot from the same family escaped and ran back home,” Akello narrated.

Pajule LC3 chairman Alphonse Omona Lokilamoi told The New Vision that he had several times warned the community against burning the grass which the displaced returning to their villages are using to thatch their huts.

Omona appealed to the people to cooperate with the police to hunt for the culprits, adding that the sub-county authorities would make sure that the responsible people are arrested.

The northern regional Police commander, Pheanehas Arinaitwe-Katureebe, told journalists in a press conference yesterday that this was the second fire in the region since the beginning of the year.

In the first incident, a child was burnt to death in a grass-thatched hut in Labongo-Ogali in Amuru district last week. Last year, an old woman in Pader district and another in Kitgum district were killed by bush fires.

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