Arua newlyweds perish in house fire: Smuggled fuel ignites inferno

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Arua, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Authorities in Arua City, northern Uganda are currently probing the circumstances surrounding the tragic demise of a recently wedded couple in a petrol-related house fire incident.

The victims have been identified as 20-year-old Lillian Anguezaru Fungaro and her 30-year-old husband, Emmanuel Adima. Both were residents of Okuazaku cell in Arivu ward, Ayivu Division, Arua City.

The incident happened on Tuesday 23rd night around 11 pm within the couple’s residence, just two weeks after their marriage. Unfortunately, Anguezaru lost her life instantly in the fire, while Adima, who managed to escape the blazing house, succumbed to severe burns on Wednesday, January 24, 2024, at Arua Regional Referral Hospital.

According to a neighbor, Francis Abiti, they were alerted by the couple’s distress calls around 11 pm. Upon investigating, they discovered flames engulfing the house. Abiti also claimed that Adima had been involved in smuggling fuel from DR Congo, a statement that remains unverified by the Kampala Dispatch.

“We heard them screaming inside their house for help at around 11 pm and when we came out to find what was happening, we found fire burning inside the house and we couldn’t do anything,” said Abiti.

Josephine Angucia, the Police spokesperson for the West Nile region, clarified that the Regional Fire Brigade promptly responded to the incident upon receiving the alert at 11:43 pm. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, Lillian Anguezaru had already burnt beyond recognition. Angucia mentioned that the fire brigade successfully extinguished the inferno, preventing further damage to neighboring structures.

“Upon informing the Regional Head of Fire Brigade West Nile at 11:43pm, the fire crew rushed to the scene to save the situation. They found that the fire was in a residential house of one Adima Emmanuel and had already burnt his wife to death beyond recognition,” said Angucia.

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Initial findings from the police investigation suggest that the fire was ignited by the striking of a matchbox within the house, which had already been saturated with petrol fumes.

Cases of Petrol inferno are common in the West Nile region, something the local authorities attribute to the rampant smuggling of fuel from across the South Sudan and DR Congo border which is facilitated by the porous illegal entry points.

In August last year, Agnes Omveku and her two-year-old son identified as Emmanuel Trinity were burnt to death in a petrol inferno at her shop in Ribini A cell in Maracha Town Council, Maracha district.

Similarly, in September 2021, Kassim Ajo, a South Sudanese National perished in an inferno in Koboko district while attempting to save his fuel from a grass-thatched house that had caught fire in Triangle Cell Koboko North division Koboko Municipality.