Another Squatter Fire on Controversial Land
Another major fire involving squatters has broken out in Sabah, this time in Keningau, destroying 11 houses and leaving about 100 people homeless.
The squatter houses at Jalan Lingkudau, Taman Balingingi were said to be occupied by foreigners.
District Fire and Rescue Chief, Yuszaimi Hairrul Azwan Juatan said the blaze broke out at about 7.30pm on Saturday.
"The incident involving 11 houses spread out over a half acre and they were completely destroyed" he said, adding that no one was injured.
A minute into the fire, the firefighters were informed and rushed a team of 24 personnel in two engines.
"We relied on two sources of water consisting of our supply and nearby river" Yuszaimi said adding that by 10.30pm they brought the flames under control. The operation ended shortly before 11.30pm.
A community leader of the squatter village, Gapur Jaafar said about 100 people were left homeless. "None of the victims were able to save anything" he said.
Gapur said that they were allowed to stay in the area estimated to be four acres by the previous administration. According to him, the land was subsequently acquired, one near Kg. Senagang and another tract in Kg Lingkudau.
"The land was given to us after we set up four Umno branches in the early 90s" he claimed.
Gapur hoped that the land could be gazette as a village and would be properly managed.
On claims that that every household has to pay a monthly RM20 and collected by an individual, Gapur said it was not for rental but funds for the Cooperative of Kampung Lingkudau Tengah Keningau Berhad.
Gapur who is the deputy chairman of the cooperative, refuted allegations that the funds collected are disguised as monthly rentals.
Yesterday, welfare officers were at the village to register the fire victims who received daily essentials. Those victims identified by New Sabah Times are locals as they have proper documents.
Some of the victims have sought shelter with relatives.