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Top 5 Major Fires in Malaysia: Mischievousness to Open Burning.
You might think that fires don’t happen that often in Malaysia but did you know that a fire breaks out every 24 minutes in Malaysia? In fact, Malaysia loses RM5.2 Billion a year to fire, and this is just property cost, this does not include the loss of life, productivity, and the inconvenience caused. Today, let’s revisit 5 of the biggest (and most memorable) fires that have happened in Malaysia.
#1 The Campbell Shopping Complex fire (1976)
It was the first Malaysia’s towering inferno that happened back on 8th April 1976,
20- storey building completely destroyed in a fire caused by an electrical short circuit and claiming the life of one victim. Due to the incident, The Malaysia Fire Protection Association (MFPA) was formed the same year after the incident occurred. As well, highlighted the standards of fire safety in high-rise buildings in the country as well as the limited firefighting capabilities at that time. Furthermore, Laws were eventually passed to ensure that high-rise premises must meet certain standards of fire safety, e.g., the issuing of certificates before they can be deemed fit for dwelling or commercial purposes.
#2 Taufiqiah Al-Khairiah Madrasa Fire (1989)
On 22 September 1989, a fire mere lit candle that fell on a mattress and razed eight blocks of the school’s hostel about 2.30 am and took away 27 lives. This not only gave awareness to the school but also gave a bitter memory to remember since that day the school has ensured electrical wires at their buildings were checked regularly. They also had regular programs with the Fire and Rescue Department and have their own fire and rescue squad. In fact “ NO COOKING” was implemented and to avoid any untoward incident all switches are inspected
#3 17-19 August, Fire at Tanjung Langsat Port (2008)
At about 6.45 pm, on the 17th of August 2008, a fire broke out at a 16,000-tonne gasoline tank located at the Tanjung Langsat Port in Johor. The tank was leased to Trafigura Pte Ltd, a Swiss company. The fire caused an inferno with billowing black smoke which was visible miles away. The police could not identify the cause of the fire but ruled out the possibility of sabotage."The inferno was too hot that our men could not get near enough. Things also improved once we started pumping water from the sea using hydro shafts," he said, adding that the foam flooding technique had been used.
On the following day, the fire worsened, spreading to an adjacent tank. At about 7.10 pm on the 18th of August 2008, the adjacent tank, containing about 8,000 cubic meters of inflammable naphthalene, ignited from overheating. The contents of six other nearby tanks, containing naptha, gasoline and methyl tertiary butyl ether, were relocated to contain the fire.
On the 19th of August, 2008, the fire department resorted to high pressured water pumps ("hydro subs") to draw water from the sea to cool the tanks. The fire at the first tank, containing unleaded gasoline, was being contained by using foam flooding techniques.
The fire was finally put out after 67 hours of fire-fighting efforts. There were no casualties and no fatalities recorded. At last count, the losses included 17.8 million liters of unleaded gasoline and 8 million litres of naphthalene.
#4 Malaysian Haze (2016)
Burning haze blanketing cities. The fires became worse due to the effects of the 2014–16 El Niño event. Natural Resource and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said open burning by farmers is the main cause of the fire and haze. The forest fires have resulted in the closing of 77 schools in the West Coast Division with effect to health with the increase in respiratory-related illness. Firefighters from Sabah decided to use aerial firefighting beside fighting it in the ground using nearby water sources. The fires were fully recovered on 3 April with firefighters took eight days to put out, while haze fully disappeared on 13 April. After the forest fires, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Madius Tangau has presented his solution on the issues to prevent it from recurring in the future as "prevention is much better than to cure".
#5 Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Madrasa Fire (2017)
A fire occurred around 5:10 am on 14 September 2017 at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah madrasa in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur which resulted in 23 of the madrasa residents (comprising 21 students and two teachers) killed due to Mocking between students of Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school and a group of local teenagers. The fire started on the second and upper floors of the madrasa building, preventing the only entrance which trapped the occupants from escaping. Those who survived managed to escape by jumping directly to the ground while others through the building water pipelines. The fire was finally contained by the fire department at around 6:40 am.“Investigations revealed that their motive was to burn the school. Their basic intent was to cause mischief by fire but maybe because of their age, they didn’t know that their actions would lead to the final result,” he said adding that there was a possibility that the suspects were “high” during the incident. Comm Amar also confirmed that two gas cylinders were brought from the lower floor to the top floor of the building where the fire started and that an accelerant was also used.