Trail of Destruction as QFM Radio Burns

2538 Views Lira, Uganda

In short
A mysterious fire burnt the building housing QFM leaving a trail of destruction on the station. Ken Okello, the QFM Managing Director said they only managed to save a few office furniture and two laptops. He says all the radio equipment and important documents have been burnt to ashes.

Listeners of QFM Radio in Lira are grieving over the fire incident that has left the station off-air today.

A mysterious fire burnt the building housing QFM leaving a trail of destruction on the station.

The two storied building had the entire last floor burnt down. The last floor alone was housing three offices including Click Deals, a construction company for Moroto County MP Sam Okwir Odwee and a private Land Surveyor.

Bismark Olang, one of the staff told Uganda Radio Network that the fire started at about 8:30am when they were attending departmental meetings.

He said they were informed about the fire after people saw smoke billowing on the roof of the building.

Four fire trucks including two from the police, another from Mukwano Group of Companies and one from K-Fire Crew Limited, a private entity rushed to the scene. The four tried to put the fire out with the help of sympathisers until a half past midday when they completely put it out.

Ken Okello, the QFM Managing Director said they only managed to save a few office furniture and two laptops. He says all the radio equipment and important documents have been burnt to ashes.

No casualty was, however, registered but the entire last floor of the building was razed down.

He puts the loss at over 100 million shillings.
Okello says they are running around to ensure the radio is back on air as soon as possible.

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The incident has left the radio listeners grieving.

Martin Ocen Odyek, former Lira district speaker describes the fire incident as unexpected. He says he was at his home in Ayago, about 5 kilometres away from town listening to the radio when it suddenly went off air at about 8:30am.

Ocen says he immediately received information that the building housing the radio was on fire and he dashed to town only to find fire had engulfed the building.

He says he will miss the radio as its programmes were tailored to address the community concerns.

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Rolex Akena Ogwal, a commercial advert producer says the incident caused a big loss not only to the proprietors of the radio but to the staff who are left stranded without a job.

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Akena says as a stakeholder to the radio station he will champion a fundraising drive to ensure the station is back on air as soon as possible.

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Patrick Okino, a New Vision journalist is sympathetic with the staff of the station who have suddenly lost their jobs as a result of the fire that burnt the station. Okino also supports the idea of a fundraising drive to enable the station back on air as soon as possible.

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Opened in Junly 2012, QFM had generated a good number of listeners because of their programming which most people say is community driven. It was employing a total of 42 people.

There are seven radio stations in Lira including QFM, Unity FM, Radio Lira, Rhino FM, Voice of Lango, Radio Wa and Radio North.

Police has opened investigations into the cause of the fire which is yet unknown.

QFM becomes the 2nd radio in Lira to be burnt after Radio Wa, a catholic Radio station  was torched by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in 2003. 

 

About the author

Denis Olaka
Denis Olaka is the URN bureau chief for Lira, in northern Uganda. Apac and Otuke fall under his docket. Olaka has been a URN staff member since 2011.

Olaka started his journalism career in 2000 as a news reporter, anchor, and then editor for Radio Lira in Lira district. He was subsequently an editor with Lira's Radio Wa in 2004 and Gulu district's Mega FM.

He was also a freelance writer for the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper newspapers.

Olaka's journalism focuses on politics, health, agriculture and education. He does a lot of crime reporting too.