MALACCA - A midnight fire gutted a century-old heritage building in the famous Jonker Walk.
The single-storey building, which housed an enterprise selling tarts and pastries, went up in smoke at about 11.30pm on Friday when the street was closed to traffic and filled with traders and visitors.
All stocks and items in the building could not be salvaged as the shop was closed at the time of the fire.
A couple who operated the pastry business was distraught at the scene. They refused to be interviewed by the press.
Kenny Siang, 48, who had been renting the building from its owner Eng Choon Association for the past six years and in turn leased it to the couple, said he was shocked and did not know how the building caught fire.
He said he had renewed all the electrical wiring and cables inside the building.
According to the Malacca Fire and Rescue Department, a distress call came in at 11.32pm and 25 men in three fire engines were immediately despatched from the Kubu, Bukit Katil and Tangga Batu stations.
Firefighters also used a turntable ladder from the Kubu station located less than half a kilometre away from the scene.
Department director Zainuddin Md Alip, who led the operation, said the fire engines initially had problems reaching the area as it was too crowded.
"However, the people there gave full cooperation when told to give way," he said, adding that they managed to control the fire within nine minutes.
He said the estimated loss and cause of the fire were still being investigated and that the building's interior was totally destroyed.
Kota Laksamana assemblyman Lai Keun Ban, who was also at the scene, said the underground fire hydrant was not marked and made the firemen's job even harder.
"What is worse is that the location of the hydrant is also a valid parking lot managed by the local council.
"Even the traders nearby were not aware that there is a hydrant underground," he said, adding that he would highlight the issue to the local council and state government.