KUCHING, Jan 9 — A 12-year-old boy died in a fire that engulfed six shop units at the Mile 7 commercial area today.
According to Bomba Sarawak Operations Division assistant director Hendri Ardimansyah, the 12-year-old victim suffered from mental illness and was the sole person who did not manage to escape from the building.
“Six shop units were involved in the fire, including four that suffered the most damage. As for the victim, he was a 12-year-old boy classified as a person with disabilities who could not move around normally,” he told reporters at the scene today.
Hendri said the victim was found in the living room of one of the shophouses.
“Initially, we received information that there were two victims trapped in the upper floor but after checking with the family, there was only one victim trapped,” he said, adding the victim had been completely burnt but was still recognisable.
He stated the fire started from the middle of the building before spreading to other units but further investigation on the cause of the fire and estimated losses is required.
Personnel from the Batu Lintang, Tabuan Jaya and Kota Samarahan fire stations were despatched to the scene after being notified about the fire at 3.30pm. The fire was brought under control at 3.56pm.
Meanwhile, several witnesses who spoke with The Borneo Post said the fire spread rapidly before the building was engulfed in flames within minutes.
According to Churchill Godfleet, an employee of a coffeeshop which was partially destroyed in the fire, he had to break open the back door to escape since the fire had spread to the front and was too intense.
“The fire started from the back of the shops next to us, and I heard there were people screaming for help before I realised there was a fire. I also heard there were some mini explosions,” he said.
Helen Tang, a stall operator at a different coffeeshop which had also been damaged by the fire, said she had been unaware of the fire until she went to the back of the shop after hearing children screaming.
“I was in the shop when the fire broke out and I heard children screaming. When I went to the back of the building to check, only then I realised there was a fire at one of the shops. I quickly ran back and removed my gas cylinder before getting out of the building,” she said.
One auto repair shop owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had taken quick action at first to try put out the fire at the shop next to his but to no avail.
“I was actually at a coffeeshop opposite my auto repair shop before someone came and told me there was a fire. I tried putting out the fire using a water hose but the fire was just too intense,” he said. — Borneo Post