Five-year-old boy dies in longhouse fire
By:Osman Razali
BTG-tuai explosion-1306-aj (T)-5

BETONG: A five-year-old boy was killed when fire swept through a 34-year-old longhouse in Bukong Asal today (June 13).

The longhouse built in 1988 was razed to the ground just about two weeks after the Gawai Dayak celebration.

According to Tuai Rumah Polly Sulau more than half the residents were not in the longhouse at the time.

Tuai Rumah Polly Sulang

“Most of the residents were at the yer-to-be completed new longhouse as there were contractors delivering building materials.

“About 8.30am, I heard two explosions, believed caused by a cooking gas cylinder, and saw thick smoke billowing from the longhouse … I screamed “hangus, hangus, hangus”.

“I went straight to the furthest room where the boy was believed to have been and knocked on the door but it was locked from the inside.

“After a while, the door opened but the fire was raging in the room. Everyone panicked and scattered,” she recounted, her face crestfallen by the thought of the boy perishing in the blaze.

One of the residents Sabang Chabu later pointed out where the body was found.

Polly said in her haste she only managed to grab a bag containing important documents, a handbag and a smartphone.

Dossie Chol

Thereafter, she got into her car and sped to an area that has network coverage to raise the alarm.

“Coincidentally, at that time, there was an issue with the network. I had to drive to a remote area to contact the Betong fire station.

“Imagine a fire at 8.30 am, I could only call them (firemen) at 9am. Fortunately, I was able to contact my sister, Nancy and she managed to ask for help from the fire department earlier,” she said.

Meanwhile, former Tuai Rumah Dossie Chol, 71, who is among the first generation to live in the longhouse, was shocked upon hearing the news.

“I was very, very shocked by what happened, within a few minutes, this 34-year-old longhouse was burned down.

“However, we calmed down, everything has already happened and we are counting on people to lend a helping hand to ease our burden,” he said.

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