Four senior citizens and their caretaker perished in a blaze at an old folks’ home in Kajang while four family members, including a boy and a toddler, died when their home in Sepang was razed by an arsonist, with both fires occurring in the early hours of this morning.
- Old folks’ home illegal, operating without business licence and permit
- Owner and operator suspected to be Pakistanis
- Family car parked in front porch used as trigger to set family house on fire
Two separate fires this morning claimed the lives of nine people, including two children, in Kajang and Sepang.
The first of the two fires occurred at the Noble Care old folks’ home in Sungai Long, where four elderly residents – three male and one female – were found dead in the 5am incident.
Kenneth TeeAwis Muhammad, a 25-year-old Pakistani caretaker at the home, died in a hospital.
Selangor Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Mohd Sani Harul Said that the department responded to the fire at about 5am.
He said Leow Chong Fatt, Teo Hoi Foo, Kwan Sak Seen, and Lai Siew Ying, all aged in their 60s and 70s perished.
Four other occupants of the house managed to escape.
“Three more caretakers, aged 25 to 38, managed to escape the fire, while an occupant in his 70s was sent to hospital after suffering breathing difficulties,” Sani said.
Rescuers arriving at the scene had to contend with a hydrant over 150 metres away and low water pressure before they could start fighting the blaze.
According to a Fire and Rescue Department worker at the scene, the pressure was so weak that they had to request for reinforcements.
“We had to call in a water tanker from Bangi because the pressure from the hydrant was low, probably due it being unused for a long time,” a firefighter at the scene said.
Kajang OCPD Asst Comm Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yusoff said the fire was believed to have started at the back of the hall on the ground floor of the building.
He said one of the caretakers had noticed the flames from the ground floor and alerted the rest who were asleep.
“By the time they noticed the fire, it was too big to put out and was blocking their escape path.
“We are still identifying the cause and will investigate all angles,”
“We are looking at all possible angles including arson concerning this case. Let us carry out thorough investigations before coming to any conclusion,” Dzaffir said.
He added that the victims were believed to have died of smoke inhalation.
Authorities investigating the incident are uncovering mounting irregularities with the centre, which has so far been confirmed to be operating without a business licence and the necessary permit from the Welfare Department.
“We don’t have any records. I have asked Bomba (Fire department) to check if they have applied for permits.
“Without a licence, they actually cannot operate.
“We will investigate to find out what sort of action can be taken against the operators,” said Kajang Municipal Council (MPKJ) councillor Lai Wa Chong.
He added that the local council had been unaware of the centre.
He also said that the licence would involve getting the approval of the Fire and Rescue Department as well.
Separately, a source from the Selangor Welfare Department confirmed that the centre did not obtain the required permit under the Care Centres Act 1993, needed for those caring for four or more non-family members.
The house, which is believed to be 15 years old, was converted for the purpose of an old folks’ home. The centre is said to have only been operating for several months and is suspected to be owned and operated by Pakistani nationals.
Police brought the remains of the four victims to the Kajang Hospital at about 10.45am for post-mortem.
Another resident, who survived the fire, was warded at the hospital.
The second tragedy occurred around an hour later in Tanjung Sepat, where four people in a family died after their house was engulfed in flames.
Firemen received a distress call around 6am and arrived at the burning home several minutes later. They found the victims after putting out the flames about an hour later.
The deceased were identified as a 73-year-old man, Chia Tee Nang; a 68-year-old woman, Lim Mai Shak; a three-year-old boy, Chia Yuan Bin; and a 10-year-old boy whose identity is yet to be confirmed but believed to be known as Ryan Chia Zeng Xi.
Their bodies were sent to Hospital Banting for post-mortem.
According to police, the fire was intentionally set.
Kuala Langat police chief Superintendent Azizan Tukiman told the Malay Mail initial investigations at the scene found accelerants around the fuel tank of the family car.
“The evidence suggests the family car, which was parked in the front porch, was used as a trigger to set the house on fire,” he said.
Azizan said police are trying to identify possible suspects behind the deadly arson.
The sole survivor of the incident, a 12-year-old boy, was still traumatised from the incident, he added.
“At the moment he has not spoken much, so we will need to give him time to compose himself before giving us his statement,” he said.