SIBU: Millions of ringgit worth of properties went out in smoke from an early morning fire which swept at least five shops at Jalan Tapah in Sungai Antu area.
The businesses affected included a textile shop, a car workshop, a heavy machinery shop, a fishing tackle shop and a wood processing workshop.
Central Zone Fire and Rescue Department chief Supt Mutalib Abbdul Rashid said they received the distress call from a member of the public at 4.47am.
“Our 16 men from Sungai Merah fire station, central fire station and Bintangor station rushed to the scene and arrived there at 5.06am which is 8km away,” he said.
Mutalib said initial efforts to douse the flame were hampered by very low water pressure.
He said the team quickly asked the Sibu Water Board to increase the pressure. As the fire raged on, the firemen had to take over three hours to finally control the blaze.
Mutalib said they were still investigating the cause of the fire and where it could have started.
The owner of the car workshop, who wished not to be named, said seven cars, including a BMW, were destroyed by the fire.
The proprietor of the fishing tackle shop could only watch helplessly.
“I have a lot of new stocks which arrived here only last week,” he said, adding that he too suffered huge losses.
Another man, who had just taken over his late father’s heavy machinery shop, said he could only managed to salvage a lorry while other goods and documents were destroyed.
Dudong assemblyman Yap Hoi Liong, who dashed to the scene at about 5am, called on the relevant authorities to increase manpower of the Fire and Rescue Department.
“In such a big fire like this, the department is shorthanded. It needs extra hand to protect the property of the public,” he added.
He also called on the water board to look into the low pressure problem.