KUALA LUMPUR: It was late at night but residents at Taman Wangsa Permai swung into action when a deadly blaze raged through a neighbour’s house.
Most of them heard loud, crackling noises at about 11pm yesterday but they did not think that it was from a fire.
Homemaker Tan Yi Wei, 53, who lives across the burnt house, was among the first to discover the flames at about 11.10pm.
“I was asleep. Then I heard ‘piak piak piak’. When I looked out the window, I saw a fire. I woke my husband at once,” she said.
The family alerted residents on Jalan Wangsa 2/4 to help put out the fire that was growing stronger.
Tan said their neighbourhood was not particularly close-knit but the residents were quick to unite in the emergency while waiting for the firefighters.
Another resident, taxi driver Tan Kok Teong, 43, was one of the Good Samaritans who pitched in to help.
“I came back from work at about 11pm but didn’t notice anything amiss. When I went upstairs, only then I heard people screaming ‘fire! fire!’.
“By the time I rushed down, the fire was spreading, All of us tried to use whatever means we had, pails and hoses, to put out the fire.
“It didn’t spread to other houses but we couldn’t put it out either,” he said.
Although the fire did not spread to his home, the heat caused cracks on the walls.
Several families brought ladders to help the home owner Shamsul Ng Abdullah, 59, escape but he resorted to jumping down from his balcony.
Other neighbours accompanied Shamsul’s wife Lam Chooi Lai, 37, to the back alley to save Shamsul’s 81-year-old mother Wong Ah Yin in the bedroom downstairs.
One of Shamsul’s five sons, Ng Jiun How, 30, rushed home at 11.56pm after getting a WhatsApp message from his father.
“When I arrived, there were a lot of people gathered outside my house. The bomba and ambulance were already here.
“The fire had been put out. I wanted to rush inside but the firefighters prevented me as it could still be dangerous.
“I saw the medical officers trying to revive my brother’s daughter (Ng Sze Xuan , 10),” said a distraught Ng.
Ng, who works in a car accessory shop, said he sent his grandmother to the hospital as she was hesitant to get on the ambulance.
The house, he said, caught fire again at about 3am but it was swiftly put out.
Ng and his brothers took turns to watch over the house yesterday until firemen completed their work late afternoon yesterday.
A heavy mood is hanging over the neighbourhood as the residents try to come to terms with the abrupt tragedy that claimed three lives and injured another three.
Food distributor Liew Chin Yap, 56, who lives next door to Shamsul, described Shamsul’s seven-year-old daughter Lam Yan Yi as a sweet and generous child.
“She would always share her candy with my granddaughters. They had a lot of fun celebrating Chinese New Year together,” he recounted.
A neighbour, who only wanted to be known as Lee, 66, and lives two houses away from Shamsul, said she was asleep until she heard the commotion.
“I thought it was people fighting again. Just a few nights ago, there were some drunkards who caused a din late at night.
“I didn’t think it could have been a fire,” said the homemaker.
Lee said she would be looking into improving the fire safety of her home.
Three killed in Kepong house fire
Ensure electrical cables are Sirim approved, homeowners told
Grandma still in shock after losing granddaughters