Fire razes heritage building in Malacca's Jonker Walk

MALACCA - A midnight fire razed a century-old heritage building smack in the famous Jonker Walk.

The single-storey building which housed an enterprise selling tarts, pastries and local delicacies went up in smoke at about 11.30pm on Friday when the street was closed to traffic and filled with traders and visitors.

Items in the building could not be salvaged in time as the shop was closed at the time of the fire.

The couple who operated the pastry business in the building was visibly distraught at the scene of the fire. 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 who had in turn leased it to the couple, said he was not sure how the building caught fire.

He said he had renewed all the wiring and cables inside the building after he had taken it over.

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 dispatched from the Kubu, Bukit Katil and Tangga Batu stations.

Firefighters also used a turntable ladder (TTL) dispatched from the Kubu station located less than half a kilometre away from the scene.

Its department director Zainuddin Md Alip, who led the operation himself, said that the fire engines initially had problems reaching the scene as the area was too crowded.

"However, the people there gave their full cooperation when told to give way. We managed to control the fire within nine minutes," he said.

He said the estimated loss and cause of the fire were still being investigated, adding that the building's interior was all destroyed.

Kota Laksamana assemblyman Lai Keun Ban, who was also present at the scene, said the underground fire hydrant was not marked and this made the firemen's job even harder.

"What was worse is that the hydrant location is also a valid parking lot managed by the local council.

"Even the traders nearby were not aware that there was a hydrant underground," he said, adding that he would highlight the issue to the local council and state government.