LANGKAWI (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Quick action by firemen had averted a major disaster and possibly saved the tropical rainforest on the Langkawi holiday island from being engulfed in fire.
Firemen managed to contain the blaze at the luxurious Andaman Resort to prevent it from spreading to the 10 million-year-old rainforest located within its vicinity at Datai Bay.
About 50 firemen were involved in the operation.
The fire, which started in the kitchen of the five-star hotel at about 4pm on Tuesday, destroyed almost the entire building which was constructed of timber.
Poor water supply and strong winds hampered the operation, with the fire spreading rapidly to the other parts of the hotel.
Kedah Fire and Rescue Department's Assistant Director (Operations) Mohamadul Ehsan Mohd Zain said they rushed to the scene when they received the distress call.
"We managed to put out the fire on Tuesday night. However, it ignited again in the morning (Wednesday) and firefighters were called to the scene."
Meanwhile, an activist said the fire served as a wake-up call.
"Langkawi rainforest is home to many species of animals and birds. If the fire had spread to the rainforest, it would be a major disaster," said Protection of Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president Shariffa Sabrina.
"While we were lucky this time that the fire did not spread into the rainforest, it is always good to be vigilant of such disasters," said Puan Sri Shariffa.
"The forests are our natural heritage and should be preserved at all times. This fire should serve as a lesson."