Sandakan: A fire broke out in Kampung Air, Batu Sapi here, early today destroying 34 houses and rendering some 100 residents homeless.
Sandakan Fire and Rescue Department chief Anddre Andrew said the department had received an emergency call at 5.28am and sent 25 personnel to the location with three machines, two utility vehicles and an emergency aid unit vehicle.
“The fire was brought under control at 6.30am. We managed to prevent it from spreading to the surau and nearby houses.
“The cause of the fire and the estimated losses are still being investigated.”
Anddre said a 54-year-old man suffered about five per cent burns on his body while trying to save his belongings, and was sent to the Duchess of Kent Hospital.
Mustafa Talib, 48, said he had just completed his subuh prayers when he saw smoke and heard people screaming.
“When I came out, the fire was already blazing,” he said, adding that the fire had started from his neighbour’s house, about 1.5 away.
He said his roof was on fire within minutes.
The family only managed to save important documents.
“This is the third time our house has caught fire... the first was in 1997 and the second in 2002.
“There was nothing much to salvage, only some documents because the fire had engulfed the roof.
“The house was filled with smoke,” he said at the Kampung Air multipurpose hall.
Mustafa said he hoped they would be given new homes through the People’s Housing Project or allowed to rebuild their houses on the same site.
Hadidah Abdul Rasad, 59, said she could only watch as her house was destroyed by fire, the second after the first incident in 2002, which involved at least 200 houses.
She said her grandchildren, aged 2 and 3, were with her.
“All our belongings were destroyed.
“Bridges connected the houses. The fire started on bridge four. We live on bridge three. The fire spread quickly probably because the houses are made of wood and a strong wind was blowing. “Our house was razed within 30 minutes.”