Major fire reported from JKIA in Nairobi


(Posted 07th August 2013 05.55 hrs)

FIRE reported at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport #Nairobi via #iVolunteer @decibyte ^PO

Reports are coming in through the Kenya Red Cross, the country’s foremost emergency response organization, that a major fire is raging at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Courtesy of twitter picture via this tweet: ‘FIRE reported at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport #Nairobi via #iVolunteer @decibyte ^PO’ this is the first available image of the raging inferno, which seems to have fully engulfed one of the main buildings.

Stand by for more reports and updates in due course.

The latest update at 06.17 hrs speaks of the main arrival building, at least the upper floors, being completely engulfed in a major fire and the arrival hall and immigration area has been cleared of passengers while those outside the main arrival hall, beyond customs check points, too has been cleared of people and cars normally waiting there. Parked cars should be removed to make way for fire brigade units coming from the city too.

Update 2 at 06.34 hrs EAT

This correspondent also urges to refrain from any speculation over the cause of the fire, which will no doubt be fully investigated.
At present there is NO information about any injuries or loss of life.

Kenya Airport Authority Statement:
We confirm reports of a Fire at JKIA affecting part of International Arrivals building and Unit 1 departures. KAA Fire and Rescue Team is on ground being assisted by G4S and Nairobi Fire Brigade.Passengers have been evacuated to safety.

Updated 06.48 hrs EAT

Reliable sources from JKIA now speak of a development just taking place at JKIA, that access to the airport has been closed for passengers trying to depart on morning flights, domestic, regional and international to allow additional fire fighting services from the Kenya Army, the National Youth Service and other government organizations priority access to the arrival / departure buildings as the sheer size of the blaze requires additional resources.
Unit One departures according to some reports is also affected.
Still no reports of injuries or loss of life.
Passengers should be aware that their departure may be delayed considerably until the blaze has been brought under full control and no more danger exists for travellers and staff working at JKIA.
And just in, news that inbound flight may have to be diverted to avoid passengers piling up at JKIA and authorities unable to process them into the country.
Stand by for more updates

And a first comment from Ron whose wife arrived as the fire spread:

Just spoke to my wife who arrived at the time of the fire outbreak. Most arriving passengers are still waiting for some sort of guidance. Looks like fire services are struggling to contain, but she said fellow passengers from her arrival (from Dubai) are all Ok.

Update 4 at 07.25 hrs EAT It has now been confirmed that parked aircraft near the terminal have been towed away to a safe distance and that
equipment like high loaders, movable stairs and vehicles too have been taken away from the apron area just outside
Terminal 3, 2 and 1. Incoming flights are being diverted to Mombasa, Eldoret, Entebbe, Kilimanjaro International and Dar es Salaam.
Due to the major airline offices located in the affected area there is no land line communication possible right now
and unless mobile numbers of airline staff at the JKIA station are available, authoritative statements about where
respective flights have been diverted to, can only be obtained through the airline city offices, in due course.

(This area is normally packed with parked aircraft and equipment)

Update 5 at 07.31 hrs EAT
JKIA has for all purposes been shut down with no flight movements until further notice. All inbound traffic is being diverted to Kenyan and regional airports and NO flights are departing.
Consult with the respective airline for updates and DON’T get upset when the lines are busy. Remember, their airport offices in the upper level of arrivals are burnt to ashes and the switchboards located there are therefore inoperative.
Update 6 at 13.23 hrs EAT
A statement just made in Nairobi indicates that cargo operations at the cargo terminal and domestic flights, operating in and out of Unit 3, will resume later today, covering Mombasa, Malindi, Eldoret and Kisumu.
HOWEVER, due to the total destruction of the arrival area, which also housed customs and immigration services, international arrivals will only resume once the logistics have been put into place to process arriving passengers through the digital / electronic data capture systems of immigration and customs inspections and inbound baggage screening have been restored.
Watch this space for future updates.
Update 7 at 15.43 hrs
Domestic flight operations, using Unit 3, which was NOT affected by the fire, have resumed according to an airport source at JKIA. There is however no indication as yet when international flights can resume as security (scanning inbound luggage), customs and immigration first have to set up alternative processing areas for passengers arriving from outside Kenya.  Once this information is available it will be posted here too.
Watch this space for future updates.

22 Responses

  1. Any further details, we have relatives that landed KQ101 about 10 minutes after fire was reported and they are still on plane.

    1. All I know at present, and the situation is VERY fluid right now, is that arriving passengers were all evacuated back into the main terminal 2 area, those already waiting for and trying to get their baggage after immigration clearance as well as those queued up at immigration. Staff too were evacuated from the main outside arrival area and the customs area, i.e. airline desk, banks, customs, immigration. Best of luck to your relatives. If they wish to tell their story, I am happy to publish it for them right here as a follow up.
      And thanks for reading my blog.

      1. Apparently no injuries within passengers. Some of them are safe in the plane and will stay until further noticed. They get fresh cooked food. All good for all passengers (exept luggages)

  2. They report that they never made it to the terminal and are on plane in a “cargo area”, flight crew says they have 5-6 hours of power available. Wolfgang, are you in Nairobi? I’m in the US.
    Your blog has the most info on this of any site on the internet.

    1. In Kampala BUT on all my phones at once to get updates and being given regular feed from JKIA sources via Twitter, including the pictures. Airport is now effectively shut down and this will take a while to clear. Authorities are struggling to match passengers with baggage, unless those still on board, where they are kept till immigration has set up a temporary facility to get people into the country.
      Thanks for your compliments but it pays to have nurtured my sources for the past decades.

      1. word from KQ101 is that they are currently moving stairs up to the plane and have announced that they will deplane soon….no instructions yet about how they will handle customs and baggage retrieval

  3. Just spoke to my wife who arrived at the time of the fire outbreak. Most arriving passengers are still waiting for some sort of guidance. Looks like fire services are struggling to contain, but she said fellow passengers from her arrival (from Dubai) are all Ok.

  4. Word from KQ101 on tarmac is that they are being told that the cargo area will be turned into a customs and baggage area and they will deplane there but no word on when that might be.

    1. My wife is now in the cargo area and says baggage is being unloaded for processing. Sounds like there is some progress….


  6. Any further update on KQ101? Family on board run out of battery for communications.

    1. KQ101 deplaned about 3 hours after landing, passengers went through makeshift customs and baggage retrieval in amazingly good time, our daughter was leaving the airport 30 minutes after deplaning. They somehow waived the VISA process and expedited their passage. Thanks to Wolfgang and this blog for keeping the information flowing.

  7. Wolfgang, what do you think the chances are of my wife flying out early tomorrow morning NBOADD with ET.? I am flying from Kuwait to ADD tonight where we plan to meet – dilemma………

    1. I really can’t say as the information about putting emergency immigration and customs facilities, very likely under tents, into place may take a while, considering that they require digital equipment to process arriving passengers; this will also affect departing passengers as both ‘sides’ need to operate fully before resuming operations. The fire site also needs to be made safe first and the impact on airline operations assessed as many airline offices with crucial communication facilities, charts and files were burnt completely.
      All I can recommend is to stay in touch with both airline and the travel agency which issued the ticket. I sure hope she will be able to travel as planned.
      Thanks for reading my blog.

      1. We have some customers that are at the moment flying from FRa to Add and Ethiopean Airlines told us that they are confident that they will fly to Nairobi this evening

  8. Hope this unexpected fire disaster gets under control and Airport begins at the earliest. We all pray that every thing will be all right soon.

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