KOTA KINABALU: A pre-dawn fire destroyed 130 houses and left more than 1,000 residents with only the clothes on their backs at a waterfront village in Kg Tanjung Aru Baru here yesterday.
Villagers were rudely awakened by screams of fire, prompting residents to run out of their homes. Some had even jumped into the sea to escape the flames. The fire is believed to have started shortly after 2am.
Walter Jack was watching television when he heard people shouting outside his house.
“When I looked out it was bright with yellow and orange flames like the sun. I woke my mother up and we came out,” he said, adding that the fire spread rapidly to other houses.
Another resident, who identified himself as Ashrul, said he only had time to get his toddler daughter and wife to safety.
Kota Kinabalu police chief Asst Comm Ahmad Sofi Zakaria said initial investigations found that the fire could have been sparked by a short-circuit in one of the houses.
He said a woman was hurt after jumping off a bridge to escape the blaze.
Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) chairman Matsah Sahat said there were houses with illegal power extensions in the village, adding that the villagers were locals and migrant workers.
A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said five engines were rushed to the area following the distress call at 2.25am.
State Local Government and Housing Assistant Minister Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah, who is also the assemblyman for Tanjung Aru, said arrangements had been made to send relief assistance to the victims. - mStarOnline