KUALA TERENGGANU, Sept 19 — A row of 12 shophouses, including a jewellery shop along Jalan Kampung Cina here, was damaged in a fire last night.

The owner of Kedai Emas Seri Cahaya, Mohd Ridzuan Mohd Yasin, 39, said he found out about the incident at 8.15 pm after being informed by his friend.

“I closed the shop at 5 pm and went back home to Hiliran (here). After getting to know that the shop was on fire, I rushed here but by the time the fire was already raging and the firemen wouldn’t let me in.

“I didn’t have time to save anything and I don’t know the extent of the damage to the jewellery in the shop,” he told reporters when met at the scene last night.

He said that the family-owned shop had been operating on the road for the past 25 years and there was a safe to store the jewellery as well as some goldsmith machines and equipment.

Mohd Ridzuan said he was told that the fire had started from a cloth shop, which caused the fire to spread quickly to the adjacent shops.

It is also understood that four families living in the shophouses along the road were left with only the clothes on their backs.

One of the family members of the victims, Cham Lau Wee, 53, said he was eating at a nearby food court and rushed to the scene after being told about the fire.

“There are four people living at our family house, but all of them were not at home at the time of the incident. My brother and sister-in-law have gone to Melaka, and the other two sisters went out to exercise. I live in a separate house on Jalan Sultan Sulaiman.

“I didn’t have time to save anything including the three motorcycles in the house because the fire was already raging,” he said, adding that the family had been living there for over 60 years.

Meanwhile, Terengganu Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department deputy director Senior Fire Superintendent I Mohd Khairiri Mat Rasad @ Arshad said the department received a call at 8.42pm but a team had already reached the scene by then.

He said this was because the fire station was located only 800m away from the scene, and firemen had learned about the incident from members of the public who had come directly to the station.

“Five shophouses were 100 per cent destroyed, while the rest were between 30 to 90 per cent burned,” he told reporters at the scene.

He said a total of 60 personnel were involved in the operation with four engines, two tankers and the Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) unit.

“The fire was successfully controlled within 45 minutes while the cause of the fire is still under investigation. No injuries or casualties were reported,” he added. — Bernama