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COLONIAL- ERA TAMPARULI (TUARAN) SHOP DESTROYED


TUARAN: An entire row comprising seven units of two-storey wooden shophouses at the TAMPARULI township was razed early Tuesday, causing losses estimated at about RM2 million.
  • Some 30 people residing in the units managed to flee to safety when it happened at 5.30am in a jewellery shop. The row is one of five remaining 50-year-old wooden shophouses built just after the war by the colonial administration.
  • The other units destroyed, according to Tuaran OCPD DSP Suhaimi Hj Wiro, were sundry shops, restaurants, a tailoring shop and two shops selling mobile phones.Two fire engines, one each from Tuaran and Lintas with 14 personnel were at the scene after receiving a distress call and took about half an hour to control the blaze from spreading to nearby rows before extinguishing it.
  • Mrs Lee, the third generation operator of the Lok Hing Coffeshop which was among destroyed in the fire, said they lost everything in the blaze.
  • She was living there with her husband, 20-year old son as well as four other workers at the top level."The fire spread very quickly and we had no time to salvage even our clothes and documents," she said.
  • Yap Bing Hiong, 43, the owner of the Hub Lee Jewellery Store who also lived on the top floor with his wife and four sons, aged between seven and 13, said he was sleeping when he smelt smoke."Even though, there are four rooms on the top floor, we slept together in only one room because I am afraid of something like this happening," he said.
  • On checking the ground floor, he noticed it was burning and alerted his wife and children. He also alerted his neighbour, Kok Chan Hock, 52, who operates a sundry shop. Kok escaped with his wife, 18-year old son and 16-year old daughter.
  • Both Yap and Kok had been operating there for nearly 40 years. Irfan Kadir, who operates a Malay restaurant that was also destroyed, said he usually had 14 workers staying at the top level of the shophouse but as they were closed on Monday for the Hari Raya Qurban, many had gone back to their families.
  • At the scene to assist the victims who lost their identification documents were MCA Tuaran Chairman, Chua Seng Kian and the MCA Tuaran Youth chief, Sim Chee Sing and Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Jahid Jahim.
  • Police do not suspect foul play but are investigating.
  • According to Minister for Local Government and Housing, Datuk Hj Hajiji Hj Noor ,all local authorities (LAs) in the State will embark on an exercise to ensure the safety of building especially old ones, including from the electrical aspect.He said this to reporters after visiting the site where fire destroyed a row of seven shophouses here early Tuesday morning. No one was injured when fire engulfed the wooden buildings constructed half-a-century ago.
  • Hajiji who is Sulaman Assemblyman, however, advised owners of old buildings to also take the initiative to have their electrical wiring inspected at regular intervals to prevent any undesirable consequence.
  • Meanwhile, the Minister directed the Tuaran district officer Awang Shamsi Hj Jamih who was also present to identify a suitable site for the construction of temporary shophouses to enable the shopkeepers to resume business soonest.He added a committee headed by Tamparuli Assemblyman Datuk Jahid Jahim will also look into ways the government could further assist the fire victims.
  • Tuaran Member of Parliament Datuk Wilfred Bumburing also visited the site and victims and attended the meeting held at the sub-district office.Bumburing who is Upko deputy president then left for the national capital to attend the BN supreme council meeting.
  • Officer-in-charge of the Tuaran Fire & Rescue Department, Mazlan Sarman, praised the six local volunteers who were part of the volunteer fire brigade who did whatever they could.
DAILY EXPRESS NEWS
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