Longhouse saved from fire

Ordinary heroes: Anthony (third from left), Evanhoe (second from right), Evanda (right) and four other residents of Rumah Dennis Nyalamba longhouse showing their certificates of appreciation from the Fire and Rescue Department. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: A longhouse in Saratok could have been burnt to ashes had it not been for the quick action of its residents who put out the blaze before firefighters arrived.

Anthony Gasah, one of the residents of Rumah Dennis Nyalamba, said he was outside the longhouse on the evening of Jan 11 when he heard cries for help.

“I could see a lot of smoke inside and outside the longhouse. I immediately directed some of our youngsters to take the fire extinguishers from the longhouse to put out the flames.

“I told them not to save their belongings but to extinguish the fire first because if they were to try to save their things, the fire would spread,” he related.

Anthony was one of seven longhouse residents who received certificates of appreciation from the state Fire and Rescue Department yesterday for their heroic action.

He said the fire started in one of the bilik (family apartment) of the longhouse and spread quickly through the room.

It took the residents about 10 minutes to put out the fire.

“If we had not acted promptly, our longhouse would have been gone and people would have died.

“There was a four-year-old boy in the room. We didn’t know he was there at first as he was hiding under a blanket but he started crying when we were using the fire extinguishers,” Anthony said.

Twin brothers Evanda Dana Manan and Evanhoe Melaka Manan, 18, who also helped to douse the flames, said they were taught how to use fire extinguishers in school.

“I’m thankful for the training. We were able to put it to use when the fire occurred,” Evanda said.

Evanhoe added that this was the first time they encountered a fire and had to use the extinguishers placed at the longhouse.

By the time the Fire and Rescue Department personnel members arrived at the longhouse after receiving the distress call at 5.04pm, the fire had already been put out.

The firefighters monitored the situation to ensure it was safe and treated the owner of the bilik who suffered burns to his foot.

State Fire and Rescue director Datuk Khirudin Drahman commended the longhouse residents for their swift response.

“The first five minutes are the most critical in responding to any emergency. Through their action, they were able to save their longhouse,” he said, adding that their example should motivate others to learn the basics of using a fire extinguisher.

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