Couple, 2 kids die in fire in Mukah

MUKAH, Malaysia - A family of four died in an early morning fire at the MPI-Pelita oil palm plantation workers' quarters here yesterday.

The fire, believed to have started in the kitchen at 2am, destroyed the wooden house.

The victims were William Uja Linggi and his wife Magdalene Mamba, both 22, and their two children Francis Fabregas, aged 2, and Francie Fanilia, who was 2 months old.

District police chief Deputy Superintendent Omar Bakhtiar said the remoteness of the plantation had hampered the Fire and Rescue Department.

"Other workers tried to help, but the fire was out of control.

"All they could do was to stop the fire from spreading to the rest of the workers' quarters."

State Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah went to the Mukah Hospital mortuary where the charred bodies were sent. She conveyed her condolences to the victim's relatives.

In Kuching on Saturday, Sirat Mut had to run out in his underwear as fire engulfed his house in Kampung Sejingkat.

All he could save was RM1,000 and his wallet.

The 58-year-old carpenter had withdrawn RM6,000 (S$409) from his Employees' Provident Fund savings and spent RM5,000 buying building materials last week to fix his house.

"I had just begun working on Friday, but everything is gone now."

"What can I say? I am glad to be alive but I am sad that I no longer have shelter for my family."

Tired after a long day working on his house, Sirat and his family had slept early on Saturday.

His eldest son, Azahar, 13, saw the fire on the ceiling of his room at 10.30pm.

The fire, believed to have been caused by a short circuit, also destroyed two other houses.

"All the houses were made of wood and it took us quite a while to control the flames. But we are glad that no lives were lost," said a Fire and Rescue Department spokesman.

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