Fri, 17 Mar 2000

Fire razes 51 shacks, injures 4

JAKARTA (JP): Fire razed more than 50 shanties and injured four people on Wednesday evening on Jl. Mangga Besar, Central Jakarta, local residents said on Thursday.

Although there were no fatalities, the fire caused panic among the residents in the slum area. A mother, Otih, had to throw her four-year-old son out of a window from the second floor of a two- story shanty to save him.

Deddy, a local resident, said three people, identified as Rachmat, Zainal Abidin and Hamdani, were slightly injured while trying to put out the fire that burned their homes.

A photographer of the Warta Kota daily, Robinsar Nainggolan, was also injured when he tried to take a picture of the location from one of the damaged homes. All four were rushed to nearby Husada Hospital.

The 51 shanties in the two neighborhood units, occupying about 1,420-square-meters of land and inhabited by nearly 500 people, were ravaged by the fire which residents said broke out from the two-story shanty.

Deddy said the fire came from the shanty owned by Ijah after her daughter, Sri, burned some joss sticks and pieces of paper for a prayer on Wednesday evening. Their neighbors, who were playing cards at the time, saw pieces of paper fly through the window in flames.

"It appeared that Sri could not control the fire when it spread to the furniture on the second floor," Deddy said, adding that Otih and her son also lived in the house.

Deddy said Otih panicked because her son was sleeping in the room where the fire broke out and she ran upstairs to save him. She cried for help and when residents arrived on the scene, she threw her son out of the window. Residents caught the boy safely.

Sri and her husband left the area unnoticed and residents believe she was afraid of being held responsible for the fire.

"Otih lost consciousness after she jumped out of the window but she was helped by neighbors," he said.

Central Jakarta Police detective Capt. Hendra Suhartiyono said police were still investigating the fire.

Residents whose shanties were razed by the fire are being temporarily accommodated at two small mosques and a public elementary school nearby.

Suprastion said the Central Jakarta chapter of the Indonesian Red Cross would help the fire victims with food at the emergency shelter which will operate for the next three days. (06)