Electricity theft blamed for most fire incidents
No matter what the season is, Jakarta may never be free from fire incidents due to poor awareness among residents in relation to illegal electricity tapping.
Jakarta’s top fireman blamed faulty wiring as the cause behind several fire incidents that took place in the city recently.
“I can say that negligence is always behind all fire incidents in the city, and most of the incidents involve electricity,” Jakarta Fire Department head Paimin Napitupulu said.
He said that many people were interfering with circuit breakers, which could lead to disastrous results. Limited power supply has prompted households and many home industries in the capital to illegally upgrade electricity.
“It’s funny that during this rainy season, approximately two to three fire incidents have occurred across the city every day. Maybe the people were too carried away with the chilly weather, so they became reckless,” he said, adding that in drought, the city could see at least five fire incidents.
In the past two weeks, more than six fire incidents have occurred in the city. On Saturday, a fire ravaged hundreds of houses in a densely populated area in Kampung Bandan, Pademangan in North Jakarta, leaving hundreds of families homeless and killing one. North Jakarta Fire department said the fire was caused by faulty wiring from the house of a resident.
On Monday, a luxurious house in Tangerang caught fire due to a close circuit while charging the cell phone battery. The fire killed two children.
On the same day, the Vihara Sakya Sakti temple in Pejagalan also caught fire, forcing followers to celebrate Chinese New Year at another temple. The fire department also blamed faulty wiring for the fire.
State electricity company PT PLN’s communication and community development deputy manager for Jakarta and Tangerang, Irwan Darwin said that from January to November last year, the company found over 5,000 customers who had been illegally upgrading the limit of their mini circuit breakers.
“We conducted inspections every day in all areas of Jakarta and Tangerang. We found that those who illegally upgraded electricity were located in densely populated areas and in some home industries, such as laundry services,” he said. “And we will definitely fine those who illegally upgrade electricity.”
Irwan said that although the total cases of illegal electricity upgrading in 2011 was lower than 2010, it would mean nothing if people’s habits did not change.
For this year, he said, PLN together with the neighborhood units and communities would conduct a massive electricity awareness campaign throughout the capital.
According to the agency, a total of 948 fire incidents destroyed houses and buildings in Jakarta in 2011, 60 percent of which were caused by faulty wiring resulting from illegal connections. The figure was higher than in 2010 with 698 cases. Eighteen people were killed in incidents last year, while 87 residents and 13 firefighters were injured and Rp 217 billion in losses was caused.