Fire and Rescue Department chief Albert Jiran Tanjong said the department sent 19 firemen in two fire engines and two utility vehicles with 40 gallons of water to the scene after receiving a distress call at 1.40am.
He said they brought the fire under control in less than an hour at 2.30am despite encountering strong winds, low water pressure, missing water hydrant heads and obstruction.
He said they had to ask the Water Department to increase the water pressure and also the Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd to cut power supply in the affected area to check the spread of the fire.
“The stalls are made of wood and the strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly,” he said, adding that no casualties were reported.
According to Tawau Municipal Council (TMC) president Ismail Mayakob, the shops and stalls were operating without trading licence on a private land.
Ismail, who was met at the scene, said he was informed that the operators of the shops and stalls were mostly foreigners who were selling fruit, fish and food and drinks.
Meanwhile, one of the firemen involved in fighting the blaze yesterday has lodged a police report, claiming he was threatened and verbally abused by an individual at the scene.
In confirming the report which was made about 2pm, Tawau district police chief ACP Ibrahim Chin said the incident will be investigated under Section 506 of the Penal Code.
He advised the public to avoid converging at a disaster scene as they could cause obstruction.
“If you come to help, it is alright. But if you come as a spectator, it is better not,” he said.