KUCHING, August 6: Last year, 26 longhouses in the state with 602 ‘bileks’ caught fire, and 331 ‘bileks’ were subsequently turned to ashes. In 2016, 20 longhouses with 417 ‘bileks’ were on fire, resulting in the disappearance of 273 ‘bileks’.
In the first five months of this year, there have been 10 longhouse fires; these longhouses had a total of 331 ‘bileks’, but 243 were razed.
Due to logistical issues that hamper the Fire and Rescue Department’s (Bomba) response time in the rural areas, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) National Women vice-chief Voon Shiak Ni said a viable option to minimise such incidents from happening was for the rural communities, especially in longhouses, to have their own teams of volunteers who are trained to assist fire rescue operations.
“In this circumstance, a good team of volunteer firefighters is crucial. We call for more volunteers to come forward to be part of the firefighting teams,” Voon told a press conference at PKR Stampin service centre here this afternoon.
She described the increasing number of longhouse fires as a “worrying concern”, especially during the dry season, and even Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin had taken note of it.
This issue, Voon added, was raised by Miri Bomba chief Law Poh Kiong during a dialogue session in Miri two weeks ago.
“The matter was also brought up by Krian assemblyman Ali Biju to Zuraida before,” Voon revealed. — DayakDaily