KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai’s nephew was killed in a house fire here yesterday.
The charred body of Yee Lik, 56, believed to be mentally unsound, was found under rubbles in an extension room near the badly damaged kitchen of his family’s double-storey house in Taman Seri Damai in Luyang.
The victim’s 86-year-old father, who is on a wheelchair was, however, saved by a neighbour in the 12.40pm incident.
It is learnt that the elderly man and Yee are cousins.
State Fire and Rescue Department director Nordin Pauzi said initial investigation believed that the victim might have suffocated before he was burnt.
“We believe the victim was trapped and suffocated due to the thick smoke before his body was burnt in the fire,” said Nordin who was at the scene yesterday.
According to Nordin, fire and rescue personnel were initially told that all occupants were safe or had escaped from the burning house.
“The victim’s body was found under some rubble while fire and rescue personnel were carrying out an overhaul operation after the fire was completely put out,” he said.
The victim’s body was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a post-mortem.
It is learnt that prior to the incident, a loud explosion was heard coming from the house by a couple of neighbours.
“I was resting in my house when suddenly I heard a loud explosion. I then went out to see what had happened and saw thick black smoke coming out from the back of the house.
“My husband and other neighbours then went to the house to save the father who was on a wheelchair,” said Kaw, whose house is located just in front of the victim’s house.
Another neighbour, Calvin Cham, said he immediately ran to the house with four other neighbours after they saw smoke coming out from the house.
“Me, and another neighbour tried to break the automatic gate while three others climbed over the fence to save the elderly man who was sitting on the wheelchair by the entrance in a desperate need of help.
“After we managed to break the auto-gate we then carried the elderly man to another neighbour’s house before he was taken to the hospital in an ambulance,” said Cham, adding that no one saw the victim and thought he had escaped from the burning house.
Another passer-by claimed to have seen a man yelling for help from the back room on the first floor of the burning house.
“I am not sure if he managed to escape as when I arrived I saw some people carrying a man to safety,” claimed the woman who declined to be named.
Meanwhile, Sembulan station fire chief Ariffin Harris said a distress call was received at 12.48pm and four fire engines with 25 personnel from the Sembulan and Lintas fire stations arrived at the scene within eight minutes.
“We managed to put the fire under control at 1.03pm and the operation ended at 1.45pm,” he said, adding that the cause of the fire and total lost were still under investigation.