Fire destroys 12 wooden houses, 177 homeless


BINTULU: This year alone, Bintulu town has been stunned with several fire cases which had caused a huge loss to the house owners and victims.

FLAMES UP: People crowd at the scene while fire fighters try to contain the fire.

The most recent case happened last Sunday around 5pm, where another twelve units of wooden houses in Kpg Masjid were razed to the ground in a fire, in just 30 minutes.

The wooden houses were occupied by 38 families and the tragedy has made some 177 homeless.

One of the victims, Mohd Zakry Kiprawi, 27, when met by reporters said he was relaxing in the house when the fire broke and could not do much but just watched helplessly.

“I couldn’t do anything. If I have a bit time, maybe I can save some valuable things,” he said.

“I was crying when seeing my house burnt down in 10 minutes,” said Zakry, who was witnessing the horrifying incident from a boat along the Kemena River at the back of his house after removing his car to a safer place.

He said he was still traumatised by the incident because he and his family have spent more than 50 years there.

There were nine family members staying in the house and loss was estimated around RM200,000.

“During that time, the wind was extremely strong and the fire was spreading fiercely,” he added.

Meanwhile, Jaepah Jong, 58, was about to get clean up (wuduk) for prayer when she felt the heat.

She went to check at the window and was shocked to see the house next door in fire, and it was fast spreading to her house. Only then she heard the shouts alerting about the fire as the building structure began to collapse.

“There is nothing I can do then, except saving my own life and bringing all five family members to a safer place,” she said.

While trying to escape from the burning house, they were almost caught in the fire at the door way but fortunately, managed to escape unhurt.

“We have been living here for so long and it’s a huge loss. We have already lodged a report at the police station,” said Jaepah, who was accompanied by her family members while waiting for immediate relief assistance from the Social Welfare Department and Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) at the district mosque yesterday.

Another victim, Amir Senin, 38, blamed the strong wind which caused the fire to spread furiously; else the residents would have the chance to save some of their belongings.

“The raging wind together with the fire, and considering the condition of our old wooden houses, I think nothing much can be done,” he said.

Amir was about to sleep when he heard people screaming suddenly and dashed out to check.

“Once I’m out, I saw thick smoke and only then realised several houses nearby were engulfed in flames,” he said.

In the panic situation, Amir said he could not think of anything except alerting his family members to grab the important documents and get out. Married with one son, the tragedy had caused a huge loss to him and his family.

The private secretary to Bintulu member of parliament Zaiedy Nor Abu Nassir who was present at the handing over of immediate relief assistance to the victims said more assistant will be given out by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing soon.

“Today, we only distributed some daily necessities and soon (Tiong) will present cash money to each of the victims once the name lists are prepared,” said Zaiedy.

Also present were Deputy Resident (Social) Ismawie Salleh and officers from Social Welfare Department Bintulu office.

Bintulu Fire and Rescue Department chief Asang Linggir confirmed that all the twelve units were totally destroyed in the fire and they received the emergency call around 5.33pm.

Two fire engines with some 20 fire fighters were dispatched to the scene and managed to put out the fire around 6.20pm.

“The cause of fire is still under investigation,” he said, adding that no injury was reported in the incident.

He pointed out that the fire fighters managed to control the situation with minimum obstacles, just that curious passers-by had caused a bit of traffic problem for the fire engines to enter the village.

Several nearby villages namely Kampung Masjid, Kpg Sebiew, Kpg Sinong and Kpg Dato had also experienced the unlucky fate in this recent month.