Mon, 10 Apr 2000

Fire causes destruction, death in Greater Jakarta

JAKARTA (JP): Greater Jakarta residents were hit by three outstanding criminal cases involving fires over the weekend.

Two of the incidents occurred on Sunday morning, with one causing two fatalities and the other the burning down of four houses.

In the latter case, the valve of a tank containing kerosene, meant to be illegally mixed with Solar fuel, was mistakenly left open, after which the oil flowed into the Pekayon river gutter in Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta. The oil caught fire.

East Jakarta police chief Col. Hidayat Fabanxio said it was unclear how the fire was ignited, but it burned all through the gutter and went on to burn four houses in the area at about 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.

"We were lucky that there were no fatalities here," Hidayat said.

When the fire died down, nearby residents went to investigate the source of the fire and the oil that flowed in the gutter. It ended some 500 meters away from the burn site, at PT Muara Pasogit Regar, the factory which owned the Solar fuel and kerosene-filled tanks.

Quoting Buyung Sarumpaet who runs the factory and factory security guard Damanik, Hidayat said the factory owner, identified as Robert Siregar, was in Bandung, West Java, during the incident.

"Buyung and Damanik agreed that the factory, established in 1989, was into 'faking' oil and selling it off to charcoal processing factories and leather factories," Hidayat said.

Upon hearing receiving this information, residents immediately began to protest the existence of the factory and threatened to burn it down.

"Buyung said he would close down the illegal operations and compensate for the losses the fire had caused," Hidayat said.

Separately, two men were burned to death and four others were seriously injured in a Sunday morning fire at PT Sarana Griya Lestari, a ceramics factory in Cibitung, Bekasi.

Bekasi police chief Lt. Col. Sutarman identified the dead victims as factory workers Iskandar, 28, and Sualudi, 27.

"The four factory workers injured in the fire are receiving treatment at the Karya Medika Hospital in Cibitung," Sutarman said.

Both Iskandar and Sualudi, workers at the pressing division, were trying to fix the pressing machine which had suddenly gone dead, at about 9 a.m. on Sunday.

"The machine had been on day and night... suddenly, it just went dead," Sutarman said.

The two victims were trying to fix the open cable wires. A short circuit occurred and the wires fell on a nitrogen tank.

"The division just blew up, burning everything in sight. Workers later put out the fire and found the dead bodies of their friends," Sutarman said.

In the third incident, a young mother of two children died at Cipto Mangunkusumo general hospital on Saturday morning of serious burns which were allegedly self-inflicted on March 31.

The woman was identified as Tiara, 23, who lived with her husband of six years, identified as Ferry, and Ferry's grandmother, Noni, at their house on Jl. Raden Saleh, Ciledug, Tangerang.

"We're still investigating the case. We are also keeping all options open," Central Jakarta police chief of detectives Capt. Hendra Suhartiyono said. (ylt)