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    Friday, March 06, 2009


    Borneo Post
    Thursday, March 5th, 2009
    Inferno sweeps through village
    By Gary Adit

    15 houses in Kpg Sg Bedil Besar go up in smoke leaving 75 people homeless

    KUCHING: Seventy-five people were made homeless with only the clothes on their backs after a massive fire destroyed 15 houses at Kampung Sungai Bedil Besar in Petra Jaya here early yesterday evening.

    In what was described by some villagers as nothing short of a miracle, there was not a single casualty or even injury in the 5.45pm blaze.

    Strong winds coupled with the proximity of the wooden structures caused the fire to spread at an alarming rate and left nearly all the affected villagers with little time to salvage anything from their residences.

    Fire and Rescue Department operations chief Baharuddin Idris said a total of 47 firefighters from the Tabuan Jaya, Batu Lintang, Padungan and Petra Jaya stations rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call at 5.55pm.

    The first unit arrived at 6.02pm and took about 45 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

    He added that such was the extent of the fire that firemen were still battling to extinguish it as of 8.30pm last night.

    One of the survivors, 76-year-old Temu Saat, told reporters that the fire began at his daughter’s house from where it rapidly spread to adjacent houses including his own which forced him and his wife to flee.

    His daughter Seniah, 47, a Telekom Malaysia employee, said she was on her way back from work when she received a call from a family member informing her of the incident.

    “Everything is gone. I’m left with nothing,” said Seniah, who still appeared to be in a state of shock and despair to say much.

    Her brother, Abdul Malik, whose house was also destroyed, said he was in Satok when he received a call around 6pm about the fire.

    The 45-year-old driver immediately rushed back to the village and when he saw the massive fire he knew instantly that he had lost everything.

    “It was fortunate that my daughter, her husband and their three children were not at home,” he shuddered, adding that he accepted the incident as fate.

    News of the fire quickly reached the ears of Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Mohd Naroden Majais, Semariang assemblywoman Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali as well as Datin Amar Jumaani Tuanku Bujang, who is the wife of Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg.

    All three were seen directing relief efforts as well as comforting the many tearful survivors at the Kampung Sungai Bedil community hall where the affected families gathered to have their particulars recorded.

    Commenting that an incident of this nature and scale was “extremely sad”, Hasidah said aid such as food, clothing and money would be distributed as soon as possible and the survivors would be sheltered at the village surau for the time being.

    Meanwhile, the penghulu 58-year-old Morni Abon said: “Some of the survivors would be allowed to occupy several houses in the village which are currently unoccupied, while others would put up with their relatives.”

    Total loss in the incident was not immediately known and the cause of the fire is being investigated.

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