Village folk voluntarily band together to help fire victims


HELPING HAND: Fellow villagers help move things out from a house. — Photos by Othman Ishak and Jane Moh

ALL GONE: Houses razed to the ground on both sides of the road from Kampung Dato to the town.

TRYING TIMES: A villager being consoled over the loss of his property in the fire.

RAGING BLAZE: The fire spreading to a house at Masjid Road.

CLOSE SHAVE: A fire about to spread to a neighbouring house.

UPHILL TASK: Firefighters struggling to combat the fire.

LOST KID : Policeman Ibrahim helping a boy to find his parents.

SIBU: Kampung folk yesterday exhibited the best spirit of teamwork and volunteerism when they came out to help victims and the authorities to put out a fire that was razing about 100 houses in Kampung Dato and Kampung Hilir here at its height.

They were already on hand to help the victims move their belongings from their burning houses when the fire started at 3.40pm.

They also tried to help both the police and the firemen.

Although the situation at the village became chaotic, it was comforting to see the warmth of the folks as they rendered assistance voluntarily.

At a house in Kampung Masjid Road, the kitchen was on fire but neighbours numbering about a dozen rushed in to help the family move household items to safety.

And at 8.30pm, a fire relief committee had been formed by the folks of the two villages on how to help the victims.

Meanwhile, Malay community leader Temenggong Datuk Wan Hamid Edruce said 200 families from Kampung Dato had earlier been relocated to a new area under the state government’s relocation plan, leaving those not allocated the new area yet behind.

It was the houses of those who had not moved out that were razed, he said.

He said he would work with the authorities and the kampung folks to look into ways to help the victims.

On the tragedy, he said the wind was too strong when it occurred yesterday afternoon, adding the fire fighting team was understaffed and the water pressure was too low.

He, however, praised the firemen and the police for giving their best in putting out the fire despite the constraints.

Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, who is currently overseas, texted an SMS message to The Borneo Post at nightfall, saying he was saddened by the tragedy.

“I am calling on the Welfare Department and the other authorities to offer immediate help.”

He also called on members of the public and NGOs to help.

Meanwhile, a member of the joint kampung fire relief committee told The Borneo Post they had given the victims temporary shelter at SK Lakis in the compound of An-Nur Mosque.

He said donations had started to pour in at nightfall, among them from Sibu Municipal Council chairman Datuk Tiong Thai King, Sibu Disaster Relief Committee and Wan Hamid.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the police operations room at SK Abang Ali has been moved to SK Lakis after a blackout occurred there.

Related News: Inferno razes 100 Sibu houses