Claims of authorities starting squatter colony fire not true, Kota Kinabalu police says

KOTA KINABALU: Claims of authorities starting a fire at a squatter colony near Kg Kalansanan Inanam here are untrue, said city police.

Kota Kinabalu OCPD Asst Comm Kasim Muda said the fire on Monday is believed to have started from a short-circuit.

He said police and other security agencies had been conducting a crackdown on illegal settlements before the fire which destroyed some 26 houses.

“In fact, our officers were about 50m or 60m away from where the fire started. How can we possibly have set the fire then?” he said.

ACP Kasim added that police always conducted routine operations against illegal immigrants and on settlements among other crime prevention measures.

He said it did not make sense that the authorities would want to set houses on fire, and ruled out such actions being taken before.

He said the government would not be so cruel as to deliberately set houses on fire, even if the structures were constructed illegally.

ACP Kasim said the exact cause of the fire was still being investigated and urged the public to refrain from spreading unverified information that may cause anger or distress.

He said videos of people accusing the authorities of burning the houses there were being circulated and were not accurate.

He urged the victims to be patient while they waited for the outcome of the probe, adding that affected villagers would be sheltering at friends’ or relatives’ homes with others at the nearby surau.

Earlier, Lintas Fire Station chief Agustavia Joe Guasi who led the operation to put out the fire, said they received a call about the incident at around 12:53pm.

She explained that fire and rescue personnel were delayed in reaching the affected location as the bridge linking the water village was faulty. They also had to ensure that there were no live wires underneath, for the safety of all rescuers.

She said no injuries were reported.

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