KOTA KINABALU - Nearly 1,000 people were left homeless as a morning fire destroyed over 80 wooden houses at Kampung Airport Lama in Sabah's east coast Tawau town.
Many residents, who were out at work, were unable to salvage their belongings after the fire broke out at around 9.30am yesterday.
"It spread so fast, we just could not do anything,'' labourer Zakiah Abdul, 34, said, adding that he was in his house when he heard people screaming.
"I came out and saw the fire a door away from my house. I immediately alerted my family and we ran out," he said, adding that he only had time to salvage some personal documents.
Tawau Fire and Rescue Department chief Ismadi Ismail said they were faced low water pressure while battling the fire.
"We were forced to obtain water from the nearby SK Bandar and Masjid Raya fire hydrants and also from an open water source at Taman Mihibbah about a kilometre away,'' Ismail said.
He said the 27 firemen were assisted by the Civil Defence Department, Rela and police while medical teams were on standby.
"So far, there have been no reports of casualties or missing persons," he said, adding that the cause of the fire was being investigated.
Ismadi also urged people not to carry out open burning activities, particularly during the El Nino dry spell, to avoid any blaze that could spark even more fires.
Victims are being housed at a nearby community centre, where assistance is being provided by welfare and district officials.