Abidin Salman sustained burns to his arm and the back of his head but it was all worth it as he managed to rescue his pet cats during a fire at Batu Sapi's water village.NSTP/POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM.

SANDAKAN: Abidin Salman sustained burns to his arm and the back of his head but it was all worth it as he managed to rescue his pet cats during a fire at Batu Sapi's water village, near here, last Sunday.

The 54-year-old described one of his cats, called "Bintang", as his lucky charm.

Recalling the incident, Abidin who is a father of five and works as a security guard was on duty at Padang Bandaran when his wife called at about 4.30am, informing him that their water village was on fire.

He said he rushed home and upon finding out that his wife and children were safe, he made his way back to his house to rescue his three cats.

"When I returned to the house, I saw Bintang on a table. Bintang did not run away despite the fire at our neighbour's home being three metres away and had begun to spread to our roof.

"Usually, animals would run away when in danger, but Bintang did not. I saw the flames and it looked like it was about to engulf my house, but fortunately that did not happen," he said when met at his home, here, today.

Abidin said during the incident, he managed to give Bintang some water before he had to sit down when he started to feel the heat on his right arm and the back of his head.

Not long after that, Abidin said firemen doused his house with water to prevent the flames from spreading to it.

He said he was thankful that he survived the incident and that his house was not razed in the fire.

"Maybe it was my luck for having Bintang. Apart from cats, I also keep fishes as pets. Previously, I had 28 dogs when I was working as a security guard at a factory," he said, adding that he organised a thanksgiving ceremony two days ago, after the incident.

In the Sunday fire, some 364 people lost their homes with some of them having to stay at a temporary shelter at the water village's multi-purpose hall, while others took to staying at homes of relatives.