Woman’s body found after fire

KLANG: A woman was found dead following a mid-morning blaze in Pulau Ketam which destroyed three houses, two jetties and five boats.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director Ahmad Mukhlis Mukhtar confirmed the death of the 49-year-old victim, whose body was found at 10.05pm yesterday after a day-long search.

“The body was found at a house that had been destroyed by the fire,” he said.

Earlier, Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Wan Md Razali Wan Ismail said firefighters reached the scene at Bagan Teo Chew Pulau Ketam at 12.50pm.

“Preliminary reports showed that three houses, classified as a ‘Class C building’, were burnt up to 90%,” he said.

Personnel from three fire stations were deployed to the scene, with teams from the Port Klang, Kota Raja and Andalas fire stations sent, while the Pulau Ketam Voluntary Fire Brigade (PBS) also assisted in firefighting efforts.

“A search and rescue operation was launched after family members failed to trace the woman,” said Ahmad Mukhlis.

A good number of houses on the island are wooden structures.

According to Port Klang Fire and Rescue Station chief Razif Mohd Haris, who was at the scene, members of the Pulau Ketam Volunteer Firemen Association quickly swung into action.

“The members were trained by the Port Klang Fire and Rescue Department and hence, they acted accordingly,” he said.

He said firemen drew seawater as well as used fire hydrants on the island to douse the fire.

“Three of the boats were completely destroyed while the other two were partially damaged,” Razif said, adding that the victim is believed to have been alone at home.

Meanwhile, a resident who declined to be named, said volunteer firefighters faced difficulties in pumping water from the sea as the fire broke out during low tide.

“So, they used water from the water tanks of houses to douse the fire as well as to hose nearby houses to prevent the fire from spreading,’’ he said.

Another local resident, Janice Lee, said the whole village was shaken by the incident as the island had never experienced such a big fire before.

“We have had fires in the past, but this is the first time so much damage took place.

“This is also the first time that boats were destroyed,” Lee said, adding that she was thankful the volunteer firemen and residents managed to contain the fire.

“They saved the day as well as the island since the houses were all built close to each other, and the damage could have been worse,” she added.

Chua See Wei, 29, who lived nearby, said she had been praying hard that the fire would not spread any farther.

“It was very windy earlier today, and that was why the fire spread to the boats.

“The tide was also very low, leaving the sea inaccessible to douse the fire. But luckily, we have been spared,” said Chua.

Pulau Ketam houses and bridges are built on stilts over and around mangrove swamps, and the place is one of Selangor’s top tourism spots, with residents mostly made up of members of the Hokkien and Teochew clans who are either fishermen or eatery operators.

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