A blaze that destroyed 50 houses in Batam, Riau on Tuesday morning was allegedly triggered by a domestic dispute, witnesses said.
Yance Sila, the neighborhood head of Seraya Atas village, said the fire originated from a house owned by Alex, also known as Iril. The blaze spread quickly throughout the densely populated neighborhood.
“The flames sparked from Iril’s house. We don’t know the cause yet. It is still under police investigation,” she told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Iril accused his brother-in-law, Gerri bin Kasam, of intentionally burning the house down after having a series of arguments with his wife, Surti.
Gerri, a Singapore citizen, stayed at Iril’s house often, in order to visit Surti. But lately, the couple frequently quarreled, Iril said.
“Last night, he invited me for drinks to King’s store. Out of respect, I joined him. This morning I heard a noise and suddenly my home was ablaze. By then, Gerri had gone,” Iril told Batam police officers.
Iril suspected that Gerri was upset after learning that Surti was not in the house.
“He might have been upset and burned down my house while I was sleeping.”
Several witnesses confirmed that Gerri had previously threatened to burn down Iril’s house.
Batu Ampar police precinct chief Comr. Zainal Arifin said the police were still investigating the cause of fire.
On the other hand, immigration authorities and police officers at ferry terminals, including Batam Center International Seaport, were instructed to be on the lookout for Gerri.
The fire in Batam started around 7 a.m. The fire department deployed 9 fire trucks and extinguished the blaze two hours later. (yps/swd)