It appeared like a normal Friday night with denizens going out for a late night supper. It was not to be. Another disastrous fire scared the living daylights out of the downtown folks around 9.30pm and scarred Sarikei permanently. This time it's Block 5 Right of Repok Road, the block between Jalan Masjid Lama and Oriental Hotel.
At this moment, the cause of the fire has not been established yet. Was it accidental or deliberate? It's too early to tell. From the pictures, it seemed like it started at No.42 Repok Road (the former Bata shop was there in the 1970s)
From the way the fire was spread, it could be speculated that it started on the third floor of No. 42 Repok Road. This was pure speculation based on the speed and ferocity of the fire on the third floor. Let's wait for the authorities to issue a formal report and it will be updated here.
How can such fire be avoided in future? Better education of fire hazards? Replacement of old electricity circuits? Installation of water sprinklers? Make it mandatory to have a fire extinguisher at every floor?
This picture will probably send chills down your spine. The immediate threat was the risk of the huge fire spreading uncontrollably to the Oriental Hotel block and the Hong Kong Studio (newer) block behind. The other end at least had Jalan Masjid Lama as a temporary buffer.
The corridor of fire between No 46 Repok Road and Oriental Hotel became the next battle ground for the firemen while another team tried to control it at the other end of the block. Explosions were heard and these were propbably due to the bursting of cooking gas tanks.
The fire began eating into No. 38 and 36 Repok Road at the other end. Bystanders could only watch helplessly. Fortunately no residents was killed but there's one casualty to a fireman.
The fire razed down No.36 Repok, a place that held dear meaning to those born at the private maternity clinic on the first floor (Sin Ming 新民) in the 1960s-1970s and those who loved the former 24-hour coffeshop of the 1980s-1990s (Ngee Hin 藝興) below.
The fire was finally brought under control after 12 midnight+. There was not only huge loss of property but also tragic loss of heritage. With more and more heritage loss in Sarikei, soon you may have no roots to anchor yourself. It was a sad day for Sarikei.