KUCHING, July 26: Veteran firefighter Tiwi Nios is used to handling emergency calls, especially those involving fire cases, but nothing could have ever prepared him for the most heart-breaking of them all.
“I was shocked, literally stunned,” said the 53-year-old Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) senior officer when recalling that fateful call on Wednesday morning.
Tiwi was informed of the heart-wrenching news, that his daughter Catherine Janet had perished in a fire incident in Mulu, by the Marudi Bomba.
“At first, I refused to believe what I heard. It took me a while for all to sink in before I finally accepted the news.
“My experience over the years had helped me to deal with incidents faced by other people but I just could not believe that this happened to our family,” said Tiwi in between tears at his daughter’s wake on Thursday evening.
Catherine, 25, the only daughter out of four siblings, died in the teachers’ quarters fire at SK Batu Bungan, Mulu, after failing to come out from the burning structure, reportedly while trying to save two of her colleagues.
It is understood that she had earlier made it out of the quarters only to run back in to help her friends.
The two other victims, both women, were reported to have sustained 20 per cent burns on their body. The 5.30am incident completely destroyed the two quarters.
The deceased, attached with SK Penghulu Baya Malang, was with several other teachers accompanying students for a course at the school located at the Mulu National Park.
Catherine had been a teacher for two years upon graduating from the Teachers Training Institute in Miri.
Tiwi, who is attached with the Bau Bomba, said his late daughter was quite close and affectionate with her mother Wency Seimon.
Catherine was in Kuching last weekend to celebrate her brother’s birthday. Tiwi said his daughter last spoke with her mother on Tuesday evening, where the two shared laughter and were teasing each other over the phone.
Tiwi and his wife immediately flew to Miri upon receiving the devastating news of their daughter’s death. Catherine’s remains were flown to Kuching International Airport on Thursday evening and arrived at her family home at Kampung Skio, Bau around 7pm.
Hundreds of family members, relatives, friends and villagers attended the wake. The funeral is expected to take place on Saturday (July 28) and the burial at Kampung Skio cemetery. — DayakDaily