653 made homeless in 3.40pm blaze which hit Kampung Dato and Kampung Hilir
SIBU: The history of two Malay settlements here which were erected more than a century ago was partially erased when at least 100 wooden houses in Kampung Dato and Kampung Hilir were razed in the worst fire to hit the state this year.
As at 8.30pm, a total of 653 people from 107 families had been registered as fire victims of the 3.40pm blaze which was believed to have started from a house in Kampung Hilir which was vacated about six months ago.
Fanned by strong winds, the fire spread rapidly to Kampung Dato and almost reached the nearby Paramount Hotel.
A surau in the heart of Kampung Dato was completely destroyed.
The road serving both kampungs became impassable when raging fire along the river bank spread across the road to continue its trail of destruction.
Folk watching in horror in Kampung Hilir said the century-old kampungs now looked like a land of grey ashes.
Community leader Temenggong Datuk Wan Hamid said there were more than 200 houses in Kampung Dato.
He said there was actually a plan to relocate the kampung folk, but due to the fire, his immediate concern for now would be to assist them in whatever way he could, including matters pertaining to temporary shelter.
Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail said police had set up an operation room at Abang Ali School.
As reporters left the scene, the fire had spread to Masjid Road and surrounding areas near Awang Ramli Amit Road, albeit at a slower pace.
The joint-kampung relief committee member said the fire was put under control at about 7pm.
At press time, both police and the Fire and Rescue Services Department (Bomba) could not update the media on the latest development as firemen were still on the ground and they are expected to keep vigil at the scene.
19 June, Early News
50 houses razed in Sibu, fire still spreading
SIBU: More than 50 houses are believed to have been burnt in a fire that spread from Kampung Hilir to Kampund Dato, and at press time at 6.35pm, the fire is still spreading, threatening to burn down more houses.
The fire is believed to have been started from an empty house in Kampung Hilir at 3.40pm and fanned by strong wind, it went out of control.
A surau in the heart of the kampung was razed.
Residents at the side of Kampung Hilir said the houses built since colonial time had been flattened.
The fire is burning on both sides of the main road, creating walls of fire, and the roads have become impassable.
Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail said police responded to the fire, setting up an operation room at Abang Ali School.
The fire is spreading towards Paramount Hotel.
Reporters at the scene said it was also spreading into the back portion of Jalan Masjid close to Jalan Ramli Amit.