Fire victim in intensive care, 45 homeless receiving aid

National 2 minutes, 44 seconds


THE man injured in the fire that destroyed two municipal barracks at Kampung Belimbing in Jalan Subok on Monday suffered severe burns on his face, body and feet, according to paramedics attending to him.

The 52-year-old Iban has been placed in the Intensive Care Unit at the RIPAS Hospital.

The 45 left homeless, including children and grandchildren of the workers, have been accounted for and are receiving aid from the Department of Community Development (JAPEM). All of them are green identity card (IC) holders.

The cost of the damage to the two barracks has been estimated at $64,400. The barracks were completely destroyed in the blaze with the loss of property including furniture and other household items belonging to the victims. The rest of the barracks survived, though residents living nearby are also in shock. Twelve families are confirmed to have lost their homes in the fire down from the initial 16 based on interviews with victims on the night of the fire.

According to the Fire & Rescue Department's Public Relations Unit, an emergency call was received at 9.53pm and fire engines were dispatched immediately.

Four fire engines from the capital and two from Berakas were sent, with the first truck arriving on scene at 10.08 pm. The department's Women Operational Unit from Lambak Kanan was also sent to provide support. The Fire & Rescue Department personnel managed to put out the blaze in 18 minutes.

The residents living in barracks that were not affected by the fire were grateful to the Fire & Rescue Department for their quick response which prevented an even worse disaster from taking place. Their gratitude was expressed by a neighbour of the injured man who only wished to be known as Lismi. She said she was fortunate that their block was spared.

"Things could have been worse if the firefighters had arrived late. If the Fire and Rescue Department had arrived five minutes later, our house too would have caught fire," she added.

Investigations indicate that the likely cause of the fire was unattended cooking in a Block F kitchen, severely injuring the owner living in that home. The fire then spread to Block E.

Yesterday, the Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan along with officials from the Municipal Board and the Fire & Rescue Department were at the site.In an interview with Radio Television Brunei (RTB), the Minister said that a task force had been assigned to assist the victims in relocating them to their new homes. Several units are still available in the Municipal Board's barracks.

The minister advised the public to take extra precautions especially as the nation is about to celebrate Aidil Fitri that marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadhan. He said most fires breaking during the preparations are caused by carelessness in the kitchen.

Food and bottled water were provided by JAPEM to the 45 survivors throughout this week, and currently the hall of the Municipal Board Housing in Kg Belimbing is being used as the point for aid distribution and assembly for the fire victims.

For the time being, all the victims are residing in homes of their immediate families, relatives friends and neighbours as relocation plans are currently under way.

The Brunei Times