S’porean love affair leads to fire
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A 9-year-old girl was killed in a massive fire that razed at least 50 semi-permanent homes in Kampung Seraya subdistrict, Batam, Riau Islands, at around 7 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
The fire originated from a house which was allegedly set on fire by an angry Singaporean citizen.
Bystanders said the fire began in a house owned by Alex, alias Iril, which was located in the middle of the squatter area. The fire spread to other houses located in two neighborhood units. Most of the residents were asleep when the fire broke out.
Besides material loss, a 9-year-old girl named Stella was killed after she became trapped in her room.
Local neighborhood unit head Yance Sila said that the fire originated from Iril’s house and quickly spread to other houses, as they were located very close to each other.
Based on preliminary data, more than 50 homes were razed. Many motorcycles were also burned in the fire.
“We are not yet aware of the cause of the fire, as it is still being investigated by police,” said Yance. He added that many houses were destroyed by the fire due to the slow response from firefighters.
Iril, 40, brother-in-law of Gerri bin Kasan, 45, a Singaporean citizen who married his sister Surti, said at the fire scene that Gerri had been quarreling with his wife since arriving in Batam. Gerri often visited his wife in Batam and stayed in Iril’s house in Kampung Seraya, Batam.
According to Iril, Gerri and his sister got married even though Gerri also had a family in Singapore. Every time he visited Batam, he stayed at Iril’s house, or in a budget hotel.
“My sister went out without Gerri’s knowledge, so he became enraged. He was very angry and probably set fire to the house as I was sleeping, despite the fact that we had a drink last night. He often causes trouble whenever he drinks,” said Iril.
Meanwhile, Gerri, accompanied by his lawyer, surrendered himself to the Batu Ampar Police. He acknowledged that he burned a pair of shoes at his brother-in-law’s house. He said he was quarreling with his wife because she did not return home for two days.
“I only burned a pair of shoes, I didn’t realize it could cause a big fire,” Gerri added.