A Sh100 million luxurious tourist lodge and a Sh42.5 million ranch house are among properties gutted down by a fire in Laikipia County.
The fire at the 61,000-acre Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia North which started on Wednesday had by Saturday burned more than 25,000 acres of shrubs and grassland.
Although no definite cause has been established, the ranch general manager Mr Tom Silvester said it could have been started by a smoking herder who might have dropped a cigarette butt on dry grass.
The ranch specializes in cattle-rearing and wildlife conservation, but the lodge and the residential house belonged to an Italian investor living in Kenya. It has 200 employees.
It has 3,000 heads of cattle, 800 sheep and goats and 70 camels. During the dry season, the management of the ranch allows pastoralists from the surrounding community to graze 1,000 heads of their cattle.
Workers and members of the community from Ewaso area have been battling the inferno since Wednesday morning when it started on the northern corner.
It spread southwards to the tourism facility, ranch house, manager’s house and the staff quarters.
“They helped to control the fierce fire from spreading to the manager’s residence, staff quarters and cattle sheds which are a distance away. It has caused huge losses-especially by burning down the lodge and the farm house,” Mr Silvester said.
Strong winds blowing in the area and presence of dry grass and bushes frustrated efforts by the community and workers to put it out.
The valued of the lodge ranged between Sh80- Sh100 million while that of the ranch house was USD500,000 (Sh42.5million), Mr Silvester said.
He hinted that the fire could result in some job losses especially in the tourism sector.
“The fire has cost some employees, especially those who work in the lodge, their jobs,” the manager said.
British Army said it would assist in putting out the fire using special fire extinguishers.