KOTA KINABALU - At least six explosions were heard as a fire destroyed more than 30 houses, leaving some 300 people homeless at the notorious Kampung Pondo in Pulau Gaya near here.
There were no reports of casualties in the fire that was triggered by a blaze at one of the houses on the squatter colony some 10 minutes' boat ride from the city at about 12.45pm on Thursday.
Fire and Rescue Department public relations officer Mohd Affendy Ramin said they believed the explosions were from gas cylinders.
"The fire was brought under control at 12.49pm and put out at 1.37pm. It was completely put out at 2.33pm," he said.
Affendy said investigations on the cause of the fire and total losses were being carried out.
There are an estimated 300 wooden houses on stilts in the area that fronts the city.
A victim, Suraya Abdulla, was seen crying and saying "My house is gone. My savings are gone," not far from the scene.
When she finally calmed down, the 26-year-old fishmonger said that although she and her family had lost everything in the fire, it was lucky that no one was home when the incident happened.
"I was at my friend's house nearby while my siblings and parents are all at work in the city," she said.
The victims will be staying with their friends and relatives in the settlement, which has about 400 houses with a population of over 2,000 people, including foreigners.