Flames Destroy Longhouse

Rumah Jegai, Kampung Purai, Undop Sri Aman Burnt Down

Saturday's quiet setting was shaken when news of a longhouse in Sri aman had burnt down. Fortunately no lives were lost. The 17 doors Rumah Jegai, Undop Sri Aman which is located along the Batu Lintang Road, Undop Sri Aman was totally destroyed by the fire. At this point in time the Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) are still investigating the cause.

Nadai Nama Nama (NNN) has to admit that if not for the availability of communications technology, news of the fire would have been only known the next day, taking into consideration its rural setting. However Short Messaging Services, Blackberry Messenger, Whatssap and Facebook was put to immediate use in coordinating assistance to the fire victims. Put this in the hands of smartphone savvy members of the public information can be disseminated at incredible speed. Below are some screen shots of the several messages I received, one of many within three to four hours of the incident. News was already conveyed to the necessary individuals, government agencies and non governmental organisations. Efforts to assist and provide relief to the fire victims were already underway before midnight and donations also poured in the next day.

MMS received from Mr. Law Eng Hui @Ah Hang who was passing by at the area (also MMSed by my staff Mr. William Irwan Manggoi). The fire was spotted as early as 3:40 pm and the fury of the flames destroyed the longhouse by 4:10 pm

Mervyn Tajem messaged me from his Blackberry Mesengger (BBM) on the incident

Later in the evening as some newspapers started calling and wanted a few more pictures, I managed to get it from Ah Hang again. The Sri Aman RTM (Rasa FM) made a public announcements to the people in the surrounding areas to provide assistance to the fire victims.

Coordination between the heads of Departments including with instructions Tuan Resident Johnathan Lugoh who was at the site before 5:30 pm. There was good cooperation with the various heads of departments including the Sri Aman Divisional Engineer Cassidy Morris who immediately sent water tanks and tents to the area. He himself was there to deliver them that night.

The Day After

The next day, the destruction caused by the fire could be clearly seen. The 17 doors longhouse was completely burnt to the ground. All that was left were the concrete portions of the longhouse walls. It was as if a bomb had dropped on the house. The Bomba personnels were on site to investigate the cause of the fire. The two water tanks and four tents sent by JKR Sri Aman helped provide minimal comfort to the fire victims. Without a roof over their heads some had to stay with their relatives and friends at nearby houses.

View of the burnt longhouse from higher ground

Front section of the 17 doors longhouse completely destroyed

JKR Sri Aman Water Tank stationed at the compound of the burnt longhouse

Another view of the burnt longhouse from higher ground

The corner of the longhouse still standing but its wooden portion is destroyed

Used fire extinguishers seen at the compound of the longhouse

Donations comprising of foodstuffs, clothings, mattresses and mineral water start pouring in

Sri Aman Red Crescent amongst others were at hand to provide ands on assistance and donations to the fire victims. Those who dropped by to give aid and assistance apart form the Sri Aman Welfare Department were the various communities from the surrounding areas.

The Member of Parliament of P.202 Sri Aman Tuan Masir Kujat (third from right) and the Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN ~ third from left) for N.27 Simanggang YB Datuk Francis Harden ak Hollis together with the community leaders visited the fire victim the next day. In the photo above the Member of Parliament gave donations and contributions for the victims to the Tuai Rumah Jegai. Photo credit: Sri Aman Divisional Engineer Cassidy Morris (in hitam kuning ~ black yellow) was also present.

It is heartening to note that the people streaming to give whatever assistance they can are from the various communities from the surrounding area. What was more encouraging was that they were multi-racial and multi-religous in composition. Many things ran in my mind at the same time as this was not the first longhouse fire that had occurred in Sri Aman. There must be a way to prevent such incidents from happening in the future. There has been too many longhouse fires for my liking and maybe its time to look at the way the relevant authorities can provide the necessary awareness and training to the rural communities (where the fire fignting mechanisms are at minimal or non existent) to prevent future destruction by fire. I would not want to cross any department's borders in seeking answers but hey, we need to approach this in a workable way. However, I am thankful that most of the people here are putting to good use the telecommunication technology available to them. These are necessary if any emergencies should occur and that connectivity is a critical factor in  providing information either to save lives or coordinate relief operations. If put to good use, the benefits are many. Special thanks to everyone involved in this incident. There are too many to mention and it can't be denied that social media also chipped in to provide news of this incident. Many more needs to be done after this so lets join hands to assist where we can. NNN signing out for now.