Longhouse fires: 1,300 lost their homes since Jan this year

The blaze at its height at Uma Bawang, Sungai Asap on April 15, 2019.

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Sept 4: The 14 longhouse fires recorded in Sarawak so far this year has seen more than 1,300 villagers left homeless in the aftermath.

Out of the 14 longhouses affected by fire since January, nine were completely destroyed, while the rest were 10 to 20 per cent burnt.

Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) acting deputy director Tiong Ling Hii said as of Sept 3 this year, 181 doors (53 per cent) of the 341 doors involved were destroyed, causing losses of about RM10.1 million.

“Of the 14 cases, eight of them were caused by human carelessness such as unattended cooking in the kitchen, four cases from short circuits or electricity overload, while another two are still under investigation,” Tiong said.

To date, there has been one death involving a 43-year-old disabled woman and four injuries recorded as a result of these fires.

“Based on our records, 12 of these longhouses were located between 30km to 187km from the nearest fire station,” Tiong disclosed, adding that not only were these longhouses deep in rural areas, but also their wooden structures caused the fires to spread rapidly.

Fires that completely destroyed longhouses occured in Sri Aman (35 doors), Mukah (8 doors), Sibu (53 doors), Bintulu (64 doors) and Miri (5 doors).

The rest of the cases involved less than 10 per cent in damages as the fires was either successfully extinguished by villagers using fire extinguishers or the location was less than 15km away from the nearest fire station. — DayakDaily