Way back in December, it feels like a long time ago, we witnessed a fire on Jalan Pantai Cenang on Langkawi Island, Malaysia. It was a bit of a shock to both of us. At first because we thought our guest house may be going up in flames and then because having to deal with a fire in a small community is never nice.
The fire, which gutted three shops, occurred at lunchtime. We were in the ocean having our lunch time swim when we heard a loud bang. This was followed by a lot of smoke billowing into the sky. The fire looked very close to where we were staying on Pantai Cenang so we decided to cut our swim short and go see what was going on.
The building on fire turned out to be the shops across the road from where we were staying. To be on the safe side we went and packed our more important belongings. This was partly because of the risk of the fire spreading and partly because we were, for some reason, expecting an Australian fire fighter style response involving evacuating nearby buildings and creating a big exclusion zone around the fire as a precaution. With our bags packed we were ready to be told that we had 60 seconds to grab our things. In reality there was no evacuation and people were happily observing the fire up close and personal.
We ended up helping a couple of shops take their stock out into the road. With smoke spreading through all of the shops the shop keepers were anxious to avoid smoke damage and, I guess, to get a head start on getting their stuff into vehicles if the fire spread. We were at a safe distance and never felt in danger. We're both glad we pitched in even if pitching in meant helping some guy move his refrigerator.
In the end, only three shops out of the possible nineteen were destroyed. We never found out how the fire started. Possibly an electrical fault. The shop where the fire is believed to have started was closed at the time and no one was there.
Within a matter of hours most of the shops were up and running again. All the stock that had been hurriedly piled into the street had been returned to its proper place.