Just too hot: Villagers watching helplessly at the raging inferno that razed a longhouse on Thursday in Sg Engkalat near Sibu.
KUCHING: Government agencies would meet to discuss the unusual spate of longhouse fires occurring throughout the state in recent months.
Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan (pic) said the government wanted to look into effective preventive measures.
“So many longhouses are being gutted by fires. We’ll be looking into ways to better prevent.
“It seems it is so dangerous living in longhouses now,” he said to reporters after chairing a meeting with community leaders at his office here.
“Before, people in the longhouses used to even cook with the open flame but we didn’t have these many fires. Now niceties like electricity are actually causing more troubles,” he noted.
The minister’s comments were made just a day after a massive fire that destroyed an 18-door longhouse and five other nearby detached houses in Sungai Engkalat near Sibu on Thursday morning. The morning inferno had left at least 120 people homeless.
Sibu Fire and Rescue Department chief Abdul Mutalif Rashid said the fire that razed the century old Rumah Adin Jawa, a wooden structure, began around 8.30am.
In a separate incident, another longhouse Rumah Kayan Taran, near Saratok, was also razed to the ground.
The semi-concrete longhouse was home to 25 families.
“Maybe it’s carelessness? Maybe there were other factors? We need to emphasise to longhouse dwellers that new modern living also means more precaution is needed,” Mawan said.
The minister said most events organised by rural communities were usually on culture and tradition, but he suggested more awareness on public safety needed to be held.
“We need to address the issues thoroughly.”
According to statistics, fires at longhouses increased by 29% in the first eight months of last year as compared to the corresponding period in 2012.
State Fire and Rescue Department chief
Nor Hisham Mohd said a total of 11 fires involving 14 longhouses, with a total of 198 doors, was reported between January and August last year.
Five of the cases were due to cooking, while four were due to faulty in electrical wiring.
The department estimated losses at more than RM12.88mil.