KOTA KINABALU - The grieving father of a fireman who was electrocuted while putting out a bush fire said his son had died while doing a job he loved.
"My youngest son had always wanted to be a fireman," said farmer Jeremos Wotou, 56, adding that his son had declined many other job offers.
Apolos Jeremos (pic), 25, died in Sandakan yesterday when he was believed to have stepped on live wires.
Wotou said Apolos' death was a hard blow for his family but they were comforted knowing that he had died doing what he loved best.
Apolos, who has five siblings, will be buried at his native Kampung Simpang, Entilibon in Tongod today.
He leaves behind a wife Laurenjah Saimin, a nurse who is five months pregnant with their first child.
Apolos, 25, joined the department in 2011 and after basic training was posted to the Sandakan Fire Station.
Colleagues from the fire station had paid their last respects when his body was sent there from the Duchess of Kent Hospital mortuary.
Apolos was part of the Special Tactical Operation Rescue Malaysia unit which was involved in the June 5 Mount Kinabalu earthquake operations.
Apolos and a team of firemen were putting out a bushfire near Taman Kenari, about 15km from Sandakan town, when he was electrocuted at about 3.15pm on Monday, Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department director Nordin Pauzi said.
Nordin said the electrocution was caused by illegal power connections to a nearby squatter colony.
"It is difficult to locate any illegal cables in the bushes that are a death trap for our personnel," he said.
Nordin said the department would provide financial compensation to Apolos' family.
Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd senior general manager (asset management) Muhamad Nazri Pazil said the area where the incident took place was among the "hot spots" of power thefts in Sabah.
He said illegal power connections to the nearby squatter colony had been dismantled following the incident.
"However, the problem is that as soon as we stop these power thefts, there are those who start the illegal connections all over again," said Muhamad.