Hundreds of Indonesians of Chinese descent in Bandung, West Java, were forced to abandon a ceremony to celebrate Chinese New Year on Tuesday morning as a fire destroyed Samudra Bhakti temple.
No casualties have been reported in the incident.
Bandung Fire and Rescue Agency head Ferdi Ligaswara said the fire was allegedly caused by lit prayer candles inside the temple that had been blown by strong winds, spreading fire to the kitchen and other parts of the building. The fire, he said, was later exacerbated by fuel that had been placed on the prayer altar.
“We had to deploy 16 fire trucks to extinguish the fire,” Ferdy told The Jakarta Post.
West Java Police Insp. Gen. Agung Budi Maryoto said the fire had spread so quickly because the building was mostly made of wood.
One of the witnesses, Feri Lee, 40, said the strong wind had caused the fire to grow even bigger.
“The fire created black smoke. I could really see it as the sky was clear when it happened,” he said.
The police who were on guard at the location immediately ordered visitors who wanted to visit the temple to stay in the front yard.
Established in 1855, Samudra Bhakti was originally a Chinese temple called Hiap Thian Kong. It was later turned into a Buddhist temple in the 1960s since the Soeharto administration did not recognize Confucianism as a religion.
The temple was one of three located in a compound on Jl. Kelenteng and managed by the Satya Budi Foundation. (das)