Malaysia: Terengganu firemen forced to tackle four fires within seven hours

ADRIAN DAVID New Straits Times 3 May 16;

KUALA BERANG: Terengganu firemen were pushed to the limit yesterday, having to tackle four fires within the span of seven hours as the hot and dry spell continues.

Their most dramatic call involved a restaurant, whose patrons were left scurrying when a fire destroyed an adjacent boutique at the junction of Jalan Sekayu at 7.25pm.

Kuala Berang Fire and Rescue Department station chief Assistant Superintendent Mohd Zamri Omar said they received a distress call at 7.31pm, after the fire broke out in one of the boutique’s rooms at the first floor.

Zamri said the station despatched a team of five firemen, headed by Senior Fire Officer II Mohd Nor Ali, to the scene.

“The room was used to store mattresses and clothes and members of the public had helped prevent the flames from spreading by the time our men reached the scene. “We managed to completely douse the fire in half an hour,” he said.

Zamri said his station first responded to a fire at a one-hectare farm in Kampung Temir at 12.40pm, followed by a bush fire in Kampung Chapu two hours later, and one at a bamboo growth in Kampung Tengkawang an hour later.

Meanwhile, Kuala Nerus Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department head Mohd Arff Tengah said carelessness and apathy by humans was a main contributing factor for many fires.

Ariff said that at times, his team was involved in putting out about 10 bush fires a day, made worse by the El Nino heatwave.

Among the areas prone to bush fires in his district were Bukit Berangan, Tepuh and Kampung Padang Kemunting in Batu Rakit.

“These areas, some as large as six hectares, experienced repeat fires, raising suspicion that mischievious persons were involved in deliberately setting them.

“They are literally playing with fire as it can threaten the safety and health of residents, and someday, will pay for their actions,” he warned.