PUTRAJAYA: The cladding panels used on the exterior of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building in Jalan Gasing were made of "polystyrene foam" and are highly flammable, said Tan Sri Noh Omar.
The Local Government, Housing and Urban Well-being Minister said the use of the material allowed Tuesday's (Feb 13) fire to spread easily and engulf the building's exterior in a matter of minutes.
"From the outside, the cladding looked rock solid, but in actual fact it is made of polystyrene. That is why the fire was able to spread so quickly.
"Thankfully, firemen arrived in five minutes so they were able to put out the fire," said Noh at a press conference here on Wednesday.
Also with him was Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Seri Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim.
Noh urged building owners that use similar cladding to remove it from the structures immediately to prevent similar incidents.
"A previous fire at the Kuala Lumpur Library was also caused by the same thing. I urge all building owners with similar cladding to remove it immediately.
"If you are unsure whether your material is easily flammable or not, contact the Fire and Rescue Department so they can inspect and advise accordingly," said Noh.
He added that the Department did not find any elements of foul play.
"The fire actually only affected 5% of the entire building. Based on the investigation, the fire was caused during waterproofing works being done by a contractor.
"In order to melt the waterproofing membrane, you need to use a flame gun. The cladding accidentally caught fire, and it spread really fast.
"The contractor doing the waterproofing was not aware that the cladding material was easily flammable," said Noh.
All 527 workers in the building were evacuated safely.