Shelter and food provided to victims of afternoon blaze
Bandar Seri Begawan - A fire broke out in Kampung Ayer yesterday afternoon, destroying 10 houses and damaging three others.
The fire, which took place at Kampong Setia 'A', was reported to the authorities at around 3.17pm yesterday, according to the Fire and Rescue Services' Public Relations Office, and resulted in 10 houses being completely burnt down while another three saw their kitchens catch fire.
No casualties were reported and the total losses are still under investigation.
It was believed that the cause of the fire was a loose connection in an electrical wiring, the Fire and Rescue Services said.
The fire resulted in a huge cloud of smoke that was visible from afar, and authorities were quick to act, led by Senior Fire and Rescue Officer Hj Mohammad bin Hj Sulaiman, the Commanding Officer for Operation
Thirty Fire and Rescue personnel were involved in putting the fire out, along with a number of residents who volunteered to man the hoses and help in the firefighting efforts.
Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Hazair bin Hj Abdullah, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports went to Kampong Setia 'A' yesterday to assess the situation and meet with the victims.
Speaking to the Sunday Bulletin, the minister said, "First, we will be providing the victims shelter. Normally victims will stay with their family members, but those who need shelter we will provide for them."
"We have flats to house some of the victims," he said. "If needed, we might also use the Pusat Belia to accommodate the victims.
"Tonight we will also be providing cooked food and other provisions, even baby milk, toothbrushes, toothpaste, pillows, mattresses," he continued.
"InsyaAllah, they will have a place to stay either with their families or the accommodation temporarily provided by the ministry under the Community Development Department."
The minister went on to describe the incident as being very unfortunate, very sad and tragic. He was thankful that there had been no casualties.
"Of course, we at the ministry, feel very very sad for the victims and for the loss of valuables, belongings, important documents."
He assured the victims that the Government of His Majesty would do everything it could to alleviate their loss and sadness.
The Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Sena Ustaz Hj Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awng Othman was also present, along with the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Awang Halbi bin Hj Mohd Yussof as well as Deputy Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, Datin Paduka Hajah Adina binti Othman and Acting Minister of Religious Affairs Pg Dato Paduka Hj Bahrom bin Pg Hj Bahar.
One of the victims the Sunday Bulletin spoke to explained that she witnessed a fuse box in their home catching fire as other family members were mingling outside the house.
"We had just woken up and five minutes later we saw the fire and then the electricity pole outside our house exploded," she said in between tears. "We've lost everything including our clothes, furniture and important documents."
The victim's relative, a 28-year-old housewife who lives in the same home and is among 19 others, including five children, sharing the same roof, said that she was having lunch at a friend's home nearby during the incident and was alerted when other villagers ran past in the direction of the house.
"I was able to quickly take only my bag from my room and I had to leave everything behind," she said. "I was so scared when it happened and I am very sad for what has happened."
With the victims gathered at a neighbour's home in the presence of ministers, deputy ministers and other senior government officers, the woman praised the swift action taken by local authorities, stating that their response was "good".
"They were here even before the fire was put out," she shared, as officers from the Community Development Department gathered victims' details as a means of reference to ensure that victims receive the help they need during times of uncertainty.
Another victim said he heard about the fire from his children who were at home while he was out shopping. When he came back, he found his house burnt to the ground with everything gone, but he was thankful that his family was safe.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin