BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – More than 100 people were made homeless after 12 houses were razed to the ground in a pre-dawn fire at the water village’s Kampung Bendahara Lama on Wednesday.

A spokesperson from Department of Community Development (JAPEM) said another four houses were damaged in the fire that affected 134 people from 23 families.

No casualties were reported and three of the burnt houses were unoccupied at the time of the fire.

This is Kampong Ayer’s first fire incident in over two years. It was previously reported that there was an increase in Kg Ayer fire incidents in 2016 with 14 cases compared to two in 2015.

The charred remains of one of the houses razed by an early dawn fire in Kg Bendahara on Jan 8, 2020. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

The Fire and Rescue Department said it received a distress call at 2.34am and deployed 20 firefighters from Bandar Seri Begawan, Pelancaran and Sungai Kebun fire stations.

However, the low tide made it challenging to extinguish the fire. The department said firefighters were still working to douse the burning embers at 10am.

The fire also caused a power outage across Kg Bendahara Lama for hours, but electricity has already been restored.

At press time, the department has yet to determine the cause of the fire and was still assessing the property damage.

A young girl walks among the charred remains of homes razed by an early dawn fire in Kg Bendahara on Jan 8, 2020. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

JAPEM said eight families have been housed at two temporary shelters for victims of fire and natural disasters.

Five families are staying at JAPEM’s flat in Sg Akar while three families are living at the Temporary Shelter Centre Belimbing in Kg Subok. Other families decided to stay with their relatives, the spokesperson added.

Minister of Home Affairs YB Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia Hj Abu Bakar Hj Apong said his ministry, together with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports; Ministry of Education; Islamic Religious Council and Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah are compiling information to ensure the victims’ welfare is taken care of.

“The Ministry of Education will be providing assistance in terms of providing the affected students with school uniforms, sports attire, and textbooks.

“JAPEM will be handling the temporary accommodation for the victims as well as providing food rations to the families,” he added.

The minister was speaking to reporters while visiting the victims at the hall of Bendahara Lama Primary School this morning.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports YB Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Hj Aminuddin Ihsan Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Hj Abidin said the fire victims will also receive financial assistance once the authorities assess the situation.