SERIAN: Forty-two residents of a double-storey longhouse were made homeless by a fire around 9am yesterday.
Six of the 10 doors in the longhouse at Kampung Soh along Mile 27, Kuching-Serian road here were razed in the morning incident.
Tuai Rumah Tinggang Sabai, 54, said many of the villages were in church at the time.
“Someone saw smoke coming up from the first house and shouted to alert other residents. Church goers rushed out to save the victim and some tried to extinguish the fire which spread quickly,” Tinggang recalled.
One of the victims, Riti Enchol, 52, was not feeling well so decided not to go to church.
“I was about to take a bath when I heard shouts of fire. I only had time to save my daughter’s birth certificate and a few other things before escaping through the back door,” said Riti who had minor burns on her hand and fingers from trying to salvage the documents.
Riti who works at Sejingkat said her other belongings were totally damaged including goods in her sundry shop. She estimated her loss at RM200,000.
Magdelene Asoon, 43, who stays with her 14-year-old son said she was made homeless by the fire.
“Nothing left for me and my son as we could not save any of our belongings. The fire spread so fast that we are grateful to escape with our lives.”
Other villagers affected by the fire were the family of Impin Kalas, 67, Luchong Baok, 68, Kertha Lunchong, 51, and Lupa Ajang, 74.
The commander of Serian Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba), Mat Undek said they received a distress call at 9am, and dispatched to the scene two engines and 11 firemen from Siburan and Serian stations.
Bomba brought the flames under control and wound up their operation by 10.30am.
The semi-wooden longhouse was completely destroyed.
Mat said his department will investigate the cause of the fire and ascertain the total loss.
The victims are taking shelter at relatives’ houses or the village’s multipurpose hall, Tinggang said, adding that the fire affected about 40 households.