Smoke still churning from fire mishap

National 2 minutes, 19 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

THE Chempaka Shopping Complex in Batu Satu which caught fire and claimed the life of a 58-year-old permanent resident on Saturday October 11 was still churning out smoke, said neighbouring tenants yesterday afternoon.

Syed Mohd Yamin, assistant general manager of Dayang Limah dan Anak Anak whose businesses are situated close to the burnt lots, said he called the Fire and Rescue Department after he noticed smoke when assessing the damage on his property.

“I keep the majority of my clothing stock, over a hundred rolls of cloth and uniform upstairs. I went up to assess the place to include the details in my insurance report. I saw fresh smoke and immediately called the Fire and Rescue,” Syed Mohd Yamin said.

Responding within five minutes, the Fire and Rescue Department sent a truck manned by personnel who levied up one water hose over three flights of stairs at the rear of the building and promptly dealt with the situation.

Dayang Limah dan Anak Anak, which has been based in Batu Satu for 30 years with two tailor shops and a towing office in the area, was forced to close one of its tailor shops in the affected building because electricity supply has been cut.

“The mood here (in Batu Satu) is sombre. My workers and I are very sad about what took place yesterday (Saturday) especially with the loss of life, and we all count our blessings that we are alive,” he said. According to an employee of Masnul Enterprise Kedai Makanan, the 58-year-old who perished in the fire was a permanent resident who managed and ran the restaurant with his wife.

Hassan Mohammad, who has worked with Masnul Enterprise for over five years, said he and a few other employees lived in the same quarters with the manager and his wife, in a lot located two floors above the restaurant. “Our normal routine is for all of us (employees and his wife) to be down and preparing for the day’s work by 6am while the manager stays upstairs, as he usually wakes up between 7 and 8am.

“A few minutes after 6am on Saturday, when we were all downstairs, I heard glass bursting from the top of the building and saw smoke and fire. “We (the workers) desperately tried to rescue him, but there was so much smoke already and we could not get in. As the fire raged, I heard him shout twice, and then nothing,” Hassan added.

“The manager was a good man. He was not only our boss, but also a friend.” The Fire and Rescue Department said they were still investigating the cause of the fire.

The affected building has been cordoned off with red tape, and all the shops have been closed pending the investigations.

The Brunei Times