We interrupt normal programming to bring you breaking news from Sharul Bee, an avid photographer, who captured these stunning and tragic shots of the huge fire last night (around 10pm) at Kampung Baji, near the big mosque.
15 houses were destroyed as the massive fire swept through the village swiftly. Several explosions were heard, probably from the gas tanks. Fire engines from Sarikei, Bintangor and Sibu helped to battle the tongues of fires. The cause of the fire is not known at this stage.
No traditional media has reported this yet. Social networking had often provided breaking news as illustrated by a comment at the Sarikeian facebook group, pictures on Sharul's website and his email asking me to blog about this.
Kampung Baji had several traditional wooden village house on stilts. A typical kampung scene would have adults doing small talk with neighbours, playful kids roaming freely with their improvised games and kamat crabs peeping out of the mounds by the longkangs (drains).
Today the victims are wondering what hit them and what their next steps will be.
There were several notable huge fires in Sarikei before. On 4 January 1856, Sarikei was burnt by the Julau Dayaks during the colonial days. The original 1937 District Office building was destroyed by fire in 1976/1977. In 1983, fire swallowed part of our heritage, the 1952 art deco Cathay cinema block at Central Road. Fire had no mercy during the 1989/1990 fire that wiped out Block 3 Right of Repok Road (the one with the Cantonese association).
What more can you say? Tragic ...