Iconic 58-year-old landmark up in smoke but your savings and data are safe.
- Claims of explosion prior to blaze
- Illegal cladding caused fire to spread rapidly
A WhatsApp message that has gone viral claiming that no withdrawals can be made from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) for the next six months is not true.
The message with the header ‘Official Announcement’ claimed that the fund’s operating system would be down for six months.
“KWSP system will be down for 6 months due to restoration works caused by mysterious fire,” it said, using the Malay initials for EPF.
“No withdrawals can be made during this period. Sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused.”
The message was written in both English and Mandarin.
The EPF on its official Facebook page debunked the fake WhatsApp message.
In a statement issued today, EPF said that members and employers who wish to perform any EPF transactions can contact or visit their nearest EPF branch.
Members may also call the EPF Contact Management Centre at 603-8922-6000 or forward their enquiries via the myEPF website.
The fire broke out at about 11.50am today, engulfing about 40% of the six-floor building.
At 1.40pm, the fire was brought under control. The blaze was put out at about 2.10am.
About 70 firemen from four stations here and Kuala Lumpur were involved in the operation.
The blaze, which reportedly could be seen from as far as three kilometres away, caused bad traffic congestion on both the Federal Highway and Jalan Gasing.
The EPF has assured that the savings and data of all contributors are safe.
“We would like to assure members that there has been no compromise to the data integrity or members’ savings in any manner.
“As the safety of customers and staff is our prime concern, the building has been totally evacuated, and the office and counter services are closed until further notice,” the EPF said in a statement.
Meanwhile, an EPF staff claimed that she heard an explosion prior to the fire breaking out.
T Saraswati, 38, said she was on duty at the information counter in the lobby at that time.
“I heard an explosion from outside the building. I thought it was the construction work. (However,) I was proved wrong when the security personnel told me that the left side of the building was on fire,” she was quoted telling Bernama at the scene.
Saraswati said the situation became chaotic when all employees who had parked their cars near the affected area rushed to move their vehicles. However, some of them were unable to do so due to the raging blaze.
A new white Perodua Myvi car was among the vehicles that were affected by the incident.
The 29-year-old owner who wanted to be identified only as Riduan said he attempted to move his three-month-old car but was stopped by other employees as the front of the vehicle was already ablaze.
“I was on the fourth floor when the incident occurred. I immediately rushed to get my car after being told (about the fire) by a security personnel but the front part was badly burnt by the time I got there.
“However, I am grateful that all the staff are safe,” he was quoted saying.
The use of illegal polyethene cladding caused the fire to spread rapidly, according to Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) deputy Director-General (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid.
Ruling out foul play as the cause, he said sparks from ongoing maintenance work at the building triggered the fire on the claddings.
The fire which began on the first floor spread rapidly on the outer walls due to the polyethene cladding, which are panels installed as thermal insulation and to enhance the appearance of the building. As such, the fire caused minimal damage to the interior of the building.
However, water damage from the fire sprinklers was reported.
Soiman pointed out that polyethene cladding is highly combustible if there is a fire source close to it.
“It should not be used on buildings as it is highly flammable. The fire was ignited on these claddings from the maintenance works at the building but fortunately, there was no damage inside the offices or casualties to staff and the public. This is the first time we have had a fire involving the cladding of a building.” he said in a press conference at the scene.
Soiman added that the use of such cladding breached building laws and is an offence.
He said the FRD will soon send out a notice nationwide to prohibit the use of polyethene cladding due to the fire hazards linked to it, adding that in the past, the department had advised builder associations and agencies against using such claddings.
The fire caused extensive damage to the facade of the building.
The original building with its aluminium-grille facade underwent a facelift several years ago to reflect the retirement fund’s corporate image.