07 August 2012

Jakarta burning

Firefighters and local residents work to extinguish a blaze in Karet Tengsin, Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta on Monday night. The fire burned through more than 400 homes and 200 kiosks. (Antara Photo)

Images of wildfires in Colorado and Catalonia have been dominant features of the news this summer. While our "zone rouge" house in the Pyrenees is always at risk during the dry season, we weren't too worried about the London flat or our possessions in the Ritz-Carlton. As a reminder not to get complacent anywhere, though, last night we spotted this raging fire from our window here in Jakarta. We weren't really threatened by the blaze, but flames that high and intense definitely give one pause.

Exploding Cell Phone Ignites Massive Blaze in Central Jakarta

Lenny Tristia Tambun | August 07, 2012

More than 400 homes were heavily damaged Monday evening in a blaze in Karet Tengsin, Central Jakarta, that was reportedly sparked by an exploding mobile phone, an official said.

“The fire was caused by a mobile phone that exploded while it was being charged,” Paimin Napitupulu, head of Jakarta Fire and Disaster Mitigation Agency said. “It caused a short circuit and the sparks ignited the blaze, which was spread by gas and strong winds. The house was made of wood and was located in the middle of the neighborhood, so the flames spread quickly.”

Firefighters began battling the difficult blaze with local residents at 7:35 Monday evening. The fire was under control by 1:25 Tuesday morning after some forty fire trucks arrived on the scene.

“Our firefighters found it difficult to combat the fire because of poor access to the location,” Paimin said.

As many as 1,665 people were left homeless by the blaze, which burned through some 405 homes and 200 businesses. Some residents fainted after seeing their home ablaze.

The Jakarta Social Agency and the Indonesian Red Cross Jakarta chapter were on location Monday helping the victims.

The owner of the mobile phone was taken into protective custody by police, Paimin said.

“He was not detained, just secured in anticipation of street justice,” he said.

1 comment:

  1. Many thanks for your comment, Richard — and for the derivation of curfew, which neither Michael nor I knew.

    Good story though it is, the cause of this fire is now disputed. From a later edition of the Jakarta Globe:

    Police on Wednesday denied reports that the devastating fire that destroyed more than 400 homes in a crowded Central Jakarta area on Tuesday was caused by a resident’s exploding cellphone.

    “How can the fire agency say that [an exploding cellphone] caused the fire? Firefighters were already late to arrive at the scene,” Tanah Abang subdistrict police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Suyudi said.

    “Witnesses only said that there was fire. No one mentioned that it came from a charged cellphone.”