Uma Bawang, Sg Asap Longhouses Destroyed by Tragic Fire
Last Monday evening, a fire engulfed and ravaged 2 blocks of local longhouses. The fire happened at the Sg Asap Resettlement Scheme in Uma Bawang, Sg Koyan, Sarawak.
2 blocks, consisting of 42 units of houses were destroyed in the fire. One of the units burnt by the fire served as a church for the community.
The tragedy left over 30 families or about around 400 people homeless. The longhouses caught fire in the evening, at about 6 pm.
The fire operation
Not long after the fire started, the nearest fire department was contacted. A team of 11 personnel in one FRT engine and one EMRS vehicle rushed to the Sg Asap scene.
Despite their quick action, nothing could be done about the distance. The longhouse is located some 200 km away from the nearest fire department. So, it took the team over 2 hours to reach the scene through the Bintulu-Bakun road.
By the time they reached, the fire had well spread. But, in the time it took the team to reach a team of volunteers helped keep it controlled as best possible. The volunteer firefighters were from the Uma Daro, Sg Asap Volunteer Fire Team. They were ordered by the fire department to control the blaze.
Upon reaching the scene, the firefighters worked tirelessly to put out the inferno. It took them several hours to do so. Come late night, the fire was contained. And stopped from spreading to other blocks. It took a few more hours to put it out completely. Reports confirm the Sg Asap operation ended at 2:21 am.
The victims and casualties
There are over 400 victims of the Sg Asap fire. 198 were from Block D. The other 209 were from Block E. The fire was believed to have started from a room or kitchen in Block D. The cause for the fire is unknown and still under investigation.
Luckily there were no casualties from this tragic Sg Asap fire. Only one victim was injured. A 70-year-old woman suffered burns on her back while trying to salvage her belongings in the fire.
All the other victims escaped unscathed. As most of them weren’t home at the time of the fire. Most of the Sg Asap residents work outstation or nearby.
Effects of the fire
The fire has caused an outcry from the residents of the Sg Asap resettlement area. Sg Asap area is a resettlement area. Established for those affected by the Bakun Dam construction some years ago. These people deserve basic development for their area. Given especially that they made way for the Bakun and Murum Dam by resettling. And, thus allowed development for the whole state.
Locals in the area are pleading to the federal government. They want the immediate construction of a fire station in the Sg Asap resettlement area. Which consists of 15 longhouses. Last Monday’s fire was the sixth such incident in the resettlement area. All incidents inflicting major damage.
According to locals, the damage could have easily been avoided. Only if there was a fire station nearer to the area. Because by the time the department makes the journey over, it’s too late. By then, most of the longhouses are burnt too much by fire.
Relief for the victims
Thankfully the divisional Welfare Department was quick to send relief to the Sg Asap victims. The following day, officials gave immediate assistance in the form of daily necessities. The Bintulu Fire Department helped transport and distribute the necessities. Which was an estimated RM 38,000 worth of relief.
The relief was given based on headcounts and should last the victims about a week. Other forms of assistance were given in forms such as cash. This is to enable them to buy their personal necessities.
If further assistance is necessary, the Welfare Department promises more is underway. Head of the Department of Welfare also promised the rebuild of the Uma Bawang longhouses. And that each unit will receive a grant of RM5,000.
Besides that, Assemblyman YB Kennedy Chuk Pai Ugon Adun Murun offered immediate relief. He presented RM44,000 worth of relief to the affected 44 families. Each family received RM1,000 to help them buy personal needs and other essentials. All this is in hopes to ease the burden of the victims.
Besides that, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) was quick to offer assistance. SEB nearly instantly delivered relief in the form of food, toiletries, and clothing.
SEB general manager Jiwari Abdullah said SEB also contributed relief in the form of cash. The victims received a total of RM21,000 for their welfare. And, each the community church and Sg Asap Volunteer Fire Team received RM5,000. If you didn’t know, the fully equipped new fire fighting vehicle used by the volunteers to control the fire was a donation from SEB last year.
You can lend a hand to the Sg Asap victims too
You can lend a hand too. Any gesture no matter how big would mean a lot to the Sg Asap victims. Don’t know what to donate? Here are things that you could donate that would help the victims greatly:
- Clothes (used or new)
- Dry/ canned food, packaged drinks
- Cooking appliances (old or new)
- Other necessities (toiletries, etc)
Those living in Miri can drop your donations off at Y Center, UTC Miri by the 30th of April. All the collected donations will get sent off from Miri to the victims on the 1st of May. For further inquiry, you may contact Rynnille (011-39267480) or Harrison (011-40128865).
Those living in Kuching can make a donation to several places. One place you can drop off donations to is Asialink Cargo, Jalan Abdul Rahim, Kuching. Do be sure to drop off the items by the 22nd of April. These collected donations will get sent off to the victims on the 27th of April. For inquiries, contact Jane (016-884 5060).
Prayers and well wishes go out to all the victims of the Sg Asap fire. Such a tragedy has impacted such a large group of people. Many thanks to the parties who assisted throughout this ordeal. Do lend assistance if you can. A little would go a long way for the victims.