MIRI: Highrise shoplots in Miri are being internally renovated and extended illegally by their owners to rent out to workers, and this poses a danger – as evident when three people were trapped in a recent fire.
At about 1.30am on Sunday (Dec 22), Miri Fire and Rescue Department firefighters doused a fire at a shoplot cum entertainment outlet in the city centre.
They found nine tiny rooms built on the upper floor, four of which were on fire.
The Bomba team found three women trapped inside. All of them are believed to be workers renting rooms there.
"The fire started from the kitchen.
"There were nine rooms on that floor. Four of them were on fire.
"Firemen rescued three persons who were trapped on that floor and brought them down to safety," said the report from Bomba Miri central station.
The shoplot is located in the Miri Tourism Corridor, where more than 100 retail outlets, eateries, pubs and entertainment centres are located.
This issue of risky renovation of shoplots into living quarters was raised several years ago when a female student was killed in a fire incident.
She was the occupant of a tiny room on the top floor of a shoplot in the city centre which had been modified and partitioned into tiny rooms.
There are many workers and students, especially rural migrants, who need accomodation when they come to Miri for work and study.
Consequently, many shopowners in Miri carry out illegal renovation of their upper floors to cater to them.
Each room is rented out for between RM250 to RM400 per month.
However, these places are a fire hazard as the partitioned rooms are made of plywood. Moreover, there are no proper fire escapes nor fire-fighting equipment.