Elderly folk can only watch as fire engulfs four factories in Penang

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Housewife Tham Chit May, 70, was sitting outside her house in Jalan Pekan Baru when she was startled by a loud explosion 20m away.

Before she could find the source of the noise, she heard a few more blasts and four factories in front of her house were engulfed in flames.

"I froze as within minutes, the fire was raging out of control and I could feel the heat from where I was standing," she said on Friday (March 30).

The massive blast, which occurred at 10pm on Thursday, destroyed four factories dealing in recycled items, confectionery, electrical goods and cabinets near the Air Cargo Terminal in Bayan Lepas.

Madam Tham’s neighbour Tan Cheow Choo, 92, said he was well-aware that the fire could spread to his house, but did not run for safety.

"I am too old to run," he said.

"A fire also occurred at the same factory some 10 years ago as they have a lot of recycled boxes that are combustible," he said.

Smoke lingering in the atmosphere near the four warehouses that were razed in the massive fire near the Air Cargo Terminal in Bayan Lepas in Batu Maung, Penang. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Fire engines from the Bayan Baru, Jalan Perak, Balik Pulau, and Paya Terubong stations rushed to the scene and brought the fire under control at 1am.

Penang International Airport senior manager Ramzi Ahmad said the fire engines from the airport were also despatched to the scene.

Small explosions could still be heard when the Fire and Rescue Services Department Forensic Unit was combing the site on Friday.

A department spokesman said investigations were underway over the cause of the fire.