Kuching – The businessman, surnamed Chai, had just flown back here with his wife around 9am after a three-day visit to the island when he was told that his house at Jalan Arang had been razed along with everything inside.
“My wife and I were in Penang for the past few days and were scheduled to return today (yesterday). This was the last thing we expected to greet us on our arrival back,” said the 50-something Chai, who fought to control his emotions as his wife broke down beside him.
The fire also destroyed the family’s Toyota Nadia in the porch, and partially damaged their second car- an old Honda Accord- which had been parked outside the house.
Meanwhile, the couple’s son, Darren, told reporters that no one was at home when the fire broke out as he and his siblings were all out at the time.
He said the family has been operating a cushion restoration business from their house for the past 20 years, turning a section of their corner terraced house into a makeshift workshop and storage area.
The fire also damaged two houses on either side of Chai’s house, one of which belonged to his relatives who are currently away in China, and caused minor damage to their car as well.
The other house also sustained minor damage. The owner, surnamed Chung, attributed the minor damage to three fruit trees he had planted along the perimeter fencing separating his house and Chai’s which prevented the fire from spreading.
“I count myself a little bit lucky as the trees I had planted acted as a partition which prevented the flames from spreading to my house and causing more significant damage,” he said.
Kuching zone fire chief Tiong Ling Hii told the media that 26 firemen from three stations were despatched to the scene after a distress call was received at 8.07am.
The fire, he added, was brought under control at 9.03am before being fully extinguished at 11.38am, with no casualties reported.
He also said the large amount of sponge kept at Chai’s house appeared to have accelerated the spread of the fire.
Total losses suffered has not been ascertained, while the cause of the fire is being investigated.