| Aziz Idris |
AN AFTERNOON inferno at Kampong Bakut Siraja Muda in Kampong Ayer yesterday destroyed three houses completely and damaged another, sending thick, black smoke billowing into the sky.
The Fire and Rescue Department said it was alerted to the incident at 2.34pm. Boats were dispatched from the Sungai Kebun and Pelancaran Fire Stations and the fire fighters contained the blaze in 32 minutes.
The fire has left 22 residents from six families homeless. No one was reported hurt and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.
All relevant government agencies, such as the Community Development Department (JAPEM), Brunei-Muara District Office, Brunei Islamic Religious Council (MUIB) and the Village Consultative Council were seen coordinating efforts to assist the fire victims with food and finding shelter.
Some of the victims and their families have been offered accommodation at temporary shelters provided by the government (the District Office, JAPEM and MUIB), however, most have sought refuge with close family members.
Leading the entourage to monitor the situation was Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, the Minister of Home Affairs.
Speaking to the Bulletin, Awg Khairul Asri, 32, one of the victims, said he was unable to save his belongings, worth thousands of dollars. The house was home to 10 occupants, consisting of two families.
“My wife and two children (one infant) were inside the house when the fire broke out. I got a call from one of my neighbours and rushed back home from work only to find my home reduced to ashes,” he said.
Awg Khairul Asri and his family have lived in the house for more than 10 years and have seen many fire mishaps around the area over the past years but the thought they too would one day be victims of one such fire mishap never crossed their mind.
“I thank Allah the Almighty that my family is safe. We have nothing left except the clothes we are wearing,” he added.
One of the neighbours who witnessed the ordeal said the fire started from the middle house and spread to nearby houses.
There was total cooperation among the residents, as a number of them were seen helping the fire fighters manage the hoses to keep the fire under control.