Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Was a usual Sat evening at home - around about 6.30pm. In the bathroom, during baby's bathtime.

During her bath, the lights in the bathroom went out. Went downstairs and confirmed that circuit had tripped. Told the husband and came back upstairs to continue with baby's bath. Finished her bath and I came out of the bathroom into the baby's room, followed by the maid with baby. She walked into the room and said that she could smell something burning. I immediately thought that maybe the wires had somehow fused or something because in the morning, the lights in my bathroom did a pop and then went off, tripping the circuit too.

The husband came in asking if I had tested which lights were the ones tripping the circuit. Then said that he could also smell something burning. Directed himself to the switch for the bathroom lights and commented that the smell was getting stronger. Then he turned to open the room door to his parents' room.... and then he exclaimed, "OHMIGAWD! GET OUT! GET OUT!"

He quickly ran downstairs scooped up Bubbles on his way who was waiting at the stairs, the maid carried the baby and followed him, while I was the last one out. I turned to look behind as I came out of the baby's room and saw fire through the crack underneath the door and thought, "OH FARK!"

Once we got outside, the husband started to trying to ring the bomba, but only had the phone number for the Bangsar Police Station. We got a bit of cover at the neighbour's which had an open porch, as it started to rain soon after we got out. Plus, baby was naked! She only had the wet towel wrapped around her. We also got the Logan, the golden retriever who was outside at the porch area on the way out. The husband took off his shirt for baby, but his shirt was already wet and cold.

Husband knocked and shouted to the neighbours to get out of their house as well, in case the fire started spreading. We stopped the Home Guard security who happened to be doing his rounds to call the fire brigade.

The police arrived quite quickly, I'd say about 5 minutes after, as they were from the police station close by. I think there were 4 or 5 of them who came in motorbikes. They went in with the husband to check. I was still waiting outside and saw that he opened all the windows from our bedroom and smoke started to come out after. I just stood there fearing any sudden explosions. I didn't have my mobile phone with me, and couldn't stand just hanging around outside. So I tied up Logan and ran inside to the master bedroom to grab my phone (even saw my DSLR camera on the dresser and made the decision to leave it!!!). When I was in the house, I couldn't see the fire underneath the crack of the door anymore and presumed that the fire had gone out.

Came back outside and called my sister to tell her what was happening. I then called my brother, to tell him that I was dropping baby off with the maid so she could get some clothes on. Poor baby must've figured something was wrong as she was quiet throughout. Bubbles also went with them.

Came back to the house and the Bomba arrived and Gavin was still running in and out of the house topless. At some point here I think, I figured it was safe enough to go inside and pick up some clothes for baby. Inside, the fire was out, and looked like a CSI scene, as there was no power, it was dark, smoky and torchlights were flashing about.

I retrieved our passports, my watch, rings and some clothes for baby. Brother came by at that time and I passed him the bags with the valuables. Then came out and my sister arrived then and took hold of Logan who was still tied to the neighbour's pole.

Stood outside for awhile to explain what had happened to my sister and then got a call from my brother to ask if they should give baby any food. At this point I went in to the kitchen to get some milk and milk bottle for baby. Passed them to my sister who took Logan to my brother's house as well. By this time, we had also retrieved both our laptops and husband saved my DSLR camera, so my sister trooped them all off to safety.

By this time, when I went inside the house again, the mattress with burn patches had been pulled out of the room. And the bomba lady (ya, a firelady, not a fireman - she a big momma! "don't mess with her, fire!") was explaining her theory of how the fire must've started from the wall fan. It probably overheated as it was left switched on, then melted the plastic around the motor, melted plastic bits dripped onto the bed below, burnt, spread to the curtains next to the bed, and spread along that wall to the air conditioner which also melted. The melting plastic was also dripping on to the wardrobe of clothes underneath that.

At first they weren't sure if it was the air conditioning unit as well but she concluded it was the wall fan (i can't remember why now - she da CSI, not me).

Husband's account of events.
When he approached the room door, he opened it slowly and with the door just slightly open he could feel an inferno of heat from behind the door, before shouting at us to get out of the house.

When the police came, they asked him to show where the fire was, eventhough he thought he shouldn't go into a burning house. They got to the door, opened it and immediately the fire started blowing up with the gush of oxygen rushing in. They closed the door again, husband retrieved the hose from the porch but we have no open water tap in the bathroom to connect the hose to! So they opened the door again and threw the water left in the bathtub from baby's bath! They also used her potty which could fill up with water quickly to put out the fire also.

When the bomba came, the fire had already been put out. So they went in, used an axe to hack the burnt pillows and bedding just to make sure there were no more burning ambers that could light up again.

TNB fellas also came.
Think the bomba called TNB, or maybe the police, because it was an electrical fire. 3 TNB guys came to make sure the wires were dead and also switched off all the respective fuses for the circuits running in the two bedrooms at the back.

They also okayed for us to stay in the house that night. The police had also advised against leaving the house all empty to prevent any looters coming to the house.

So..... how do I feel now?

Am okay emotionally - not too shaken up. But at a point while I was standing outside waiting for my house to burn down when I felt really emotional. It is the lousiest feeling, standing outside, knowing you are somewhat safe, but your home, together with all your valuables and (material) things from your whole life, was facing impending perish.

Counting lucky stars.
Luckily, no one and no dog was hurt.
Luckily, we didn't lose too many things, mainly old furniture.
Luckily, husband closed the door after he discovered the fire, which choked the fire so it stayed small and slow.
Luckily, the glass in the windows did not break through which would have allowed in all the oxygen to fuel the fire.
Luckily, it was bathtime for the baby so we were upstairs and discovered the fire when we did and not in the middle of the night or while we were out.
Luckily, the fire did not explode out to the living area upstairs while we were in the room next door, trapping us in.
Luckily, the wall fan was above the bed and not above the bookshelves, where there were more highly flammable books.
Luckily, the fire was already out when the bomba guys came, otherwise all our stuff would've been sprayed with the white powder. The whole house have been in a bigger mess and stuff destroyed eventhough property saved.
Luckily, it happened while there were people in the house.
Luckily, we discovered the fire....
.... and the list goes on.

I know we are lucky to have escaped unscathed. But frankly, am quite tired of counting my lucky stars this way - something bad happens and you have to console yourself by looking on the bright side. How about some real "luck", like a windfall gain, y'know, winning the lottery perhaps. Otherwise, am happy to just go along with life in a boring, unexciting kinda way, without such events to jolt my blood pressure. Sigh....so Big Guy, if you're listening, either throw some real LUCK for a change or just not throw anything this way at all. I really don't know about any "ooong" coming out of this.

Anyhoo, some real tips in preventing and in the event of a fire:

  • closing the door back on the fire was the right move - it not only contained the fire but choked it
  • do try to trip your main fuse every 6 months to make sure it works - ie, check that it does trip, so you know the circuit breaker works
  • do make sure you know how to have quick exits from the house (i know we never think of such things in our daily lives, but you also never know when accidents happen, sigh...)
  • electrician confirmed that cheapo fans have no built-in cut off mechanisms - just spend that little bit more money on reputable KDK or Panasonic fans, ie, don't buy the RM20 stand fans from jusco or tesco. or if you have one in your house now, once they start slowing down in rotation - please throw them out. 
  • keep the phone numbers of the police and fire brigade in your phone or just know it - our first instinct was to dial 911! that does not work in Malaysia. (will update for the correct emergency phone numbers - see, i still don't know it!)
Now for the photos (only) of the aftermath:
right: scarred mattress

blackened with soot

damage in room

what's left of the fan and burnt headboart (hate to think this happening to human flesh)

left: melted ceiling light but asbestos ceiling intact

what's left of the curtains

bomba reckons the fire spread from the right (where the wall fan once hung) towards the curtains at the windows to the left (where the a/cond is now partially melted)

bantal terbakar

right: where the wall fan once hung

national 1HP a-cond 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

oh dear, Mighty Glad it wasn't worse!

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