SIBU: It will be a bleak Gawai for 161 residents of Rumah Umpang, Ulu Bauh Celon in Selangau as their longhouse was totally destroyed in a late night fire on Thursday (April 18).
The state's Fire and Rescue Department in its daily update said they received a distress call at 10pm.
Eleven firemen in one fire engine and a four-wheel-drive were immediately dispatched from the Sungai Merah Fire Station. They arrived in Selangau an hour later.
However, the firemen's effort to reach the scene was hampered the narrow road leading to the 25-door longhouse. The fire engine could not get to the longhouse.
"The firemen had to take all fire-fighting equipment and loaded them into the four-wheel drive before proceeding to the longhouse, which was another 5km away," it said.
By the time they arrived at the scene, it was too late to save the longhouse. They doused the fire using water from the river.
The operation ended at 3am on Friday (April 19).
The Rumah Umpang fire is the fourth fire in the state so far this year involving Iban longhouses.
The other fires broke out in Rumah Chandi, SK Sg Tau also in Selangau on April 4 where 230 people became homeless; Rumah Uma Bawang, Sungai Asap in Belaga on April 15 where 407 people lost their home; RH Panjang Buyong, Jln Lidong, Betong on April 15.