Kampong Ayer (the Water Village) is a major attraction in Brunei capital, Bandar Seri begawan. But on December 8, a total of 24 houses caught fire which resulted in destroyed homes at Kampong Lorong Dalam and Kampong Pandai Besi in Kampong Ayer. A total of 13 houses in Kampong Lorong Dalam and 11 houses from Kampong Pandai Besi were affected in the blast which spread quick because of solid winds. No casualties were luckily reported.
Speaking to the Media, Haji Abu Bakar bin Haji Chuchu, Village Head of Kampong Lorong Dalam, also the Acting Village Head of Kampong Sungai Pandan ‘A and ‘B’, Mukim Burong Pingai Ayer, said that he was attending to a village resident’s housing application at his office at midday when an explosion was heard.
“We thought that the fire broke out in Kampong Sungai Pandan but we found out soon after that it began in Kampong Pandai Besi. The village residents were very cooperative in lending a helping hand to transfer flammable items such as gas cylinders to prevent the fire from spreading farther,” he said.
“The Fire and Rescue Department put a lot of effort in extinguishing the flames with assistance from the villagers. My home was also close by to the fire and had it reached my home, I wouldn’t have been able to do much,” he added.
According to the villagers, the river was at low tide at the time, making it difficult for the Fire and Rescue teams to extinguish the fire because they were forced to use a longer hose. Another difficulty was the presence of strong winds.
The Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports said his ministry will help the casualties moved to shelters around town where they will be provided with early emergency assistance. Other agencies that were also present to assist the victims were the Community Development Department (JAPEM) and the Brunei-Muara District Office.
Kampugn Ayer is one of the most visited attraction in Brunei as the water village retains its traditional lifestyle with people living in wooden houses built on stilts. It is likely that houses will be rebuilt in traditional style.