Girl saves 36 students from religious school fire in Malaysia


State Fire and Rescue Department chief Norazam Khamis said the fire spread quickly and within minutes, it had engulfed the inner section of the hostel which is about 4km from the main school complex.
State Fire and Rescue Department chief Norazam Khamis said the fire spread quickly and within minutes, it had engulfed the inner section of the hostel which is about 4km from the main school complex.PHOTO: THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

REMBAU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A 15-year-old student of a religious school here saved the lives of her 36 schoolmates when she raised the alarm after seeing that the ceiling of their hostel was on fire.

Nur Athirah Izzati Shamsul Murfiz, a student at Sekolah Tinggi Islam As Sofa, was about to sleep at around 1.30am on Thursday (Sept 28) when she noticed sparks coming from the ceiling. At first, she thought nothing of it.

State Fire and Rescue Department chief Norazam Khamis said that when the sparks got bigger and brighter, Nur Athirah immediately woke up her sleeping hostel mates and they quickly made their way out of the single-storey hostel.

Norazam said the fire spread quickly and within minutes, it had engulfed the inner section of the hostel which is about 4km from the main school complex.

"By the time my men arrived here, the girls were already safely out of the hostel.

"Three girls had breathing difficulties and were taken to Tampin Hospital for outpatient treatment," he said when met at the hostel.

Norazam said there were six other people, including two women wardens and two women employees, at the hostel when the fire broke out. Two others were on guard duty.

"When the firemen from the Rembau and Tampin stations arrived 10 minutes after getting a call from a warden, the hostel was already half razed.

"But we managed to put out the flames within 30 minutes and saved a surau and an adjoining hall," he said.

Norazam confirmed that the school, run by Yayasan As Sofa, had complied with safety aspects and had a certificate of completion and compliance.

"The school management was actually taken to court for failing to comply with safety aspects in 2014 but since then, it has been working with us to adhere to all the necessary regulations," he said.

However, Norazam could not immediately confirm if the girls' hostel had a safety compliance certificate. He said the cause of the fire had yet to be determined.

"We will interview the girls and call in our experts and forensic teams to establish this," he said.

On a separate matter, Norazam said 10 of the 40 Islamic religious schools inspected by his team in the state so far has not obtained a safety certificate from his department.

"Some did not have fire extinguishers or proper exits. So we have given them notices asking them to comply," he said, adding that the team was also checking on such schools in rural areas.

He said that based on their findings, there were some 30 schools which were not registered with his department statewide.