Tahfiz school fires: Not just isolated incidents
- Increase Text
- Decrease Text
- Reset Text
- Print Article
Rescue workers at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah religious school in Kuala Lumpur after a fire broke out in the wee hours of the morning, September 14, 2017. â Reuters picKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 â" The fire that killed 23 people at a Islamic religious school here yesterday was all the more tragic because it was only the latest involving such institutions.
According to statistics from the Fire and Rescue Department last month, it recorded a staggerin g 211 fires at tahfiz school nationwide from 2015 to 2017. The first three months of 2017 alone had 30 reported cases with losses totalling RM1.4 million.
In August, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar also noted that the number of fires at tahfiz and religious schools have been climbing annually.
Despite acknowledging the reasons behind the rising number of fires in tahfiz schools, no action appears to have been taken against operators of tahfiz schools that flout fire and safety standards.
The following are some of the fires involving tahfiz schools in recent history, including the worst incident that occurred in 1989:
Tahfiz Al-Taqwa (Baling) August 6, 2017
Prior to yesterdayâs tragedy, there was a fire engulfed family-run religious school Tahfiz Al-Taqwa.
The Star reported that the Fire and Rescue Department received a distress call at 2.04am and took a team of firemen 20 minutes to put out the fire and controlled it from spreading.
However, no casualties were reported as the nine students, staff members and their families escaped the blaze which started on the third floor.
Maahad Tahfiz Al Baraqah (Sepang) July 29, 2017
Two blocks of Maahad Tahfiz Al Baraqahâs male hostels were razed while the office building nearby was partially destroyed.
Malay daily Berita Harian reported that there were no casualties.
âDuring the incident, the students were asleep and the warden realised there was a fire. He woke everyone up to save themselves,â said KLIA fire chief Khairuddin Jamaludin.
The incident, which occurred at 4.42am, saw 25 firefighters and two fire-engines deployed. The blaze came under control in around 30 minutes and the fire was put out by 8am.
Mahaad Tahfiz Al-Quran Al-Ismailiah Mukim Lalang (Pasir Mas) April 30, 2017
Utusan Malaysia reported that 30 students at Mahaad Tahfiz Al-Quran Al-Ismailiah Mukim Lalang were left with only the clothes on their backs when their hostel caught fire.
The fire occurred at 4am and no one was hurt.
Pasir Mas fire chief Duniya Saad said his officers received the emergency call at around 4.23am. and deployed 17 fire fighters but by the time they reached the location, the hostel was completely destroyed.
Pusat Pendidikan Islam An-Nuur (Kuantan) January 17, 2017
Pusat Pendidikan Islam An-Nuur caught on fire for the second time since 2006, recording a loss of around RM400,000 including books, Islamic religious literature and school equipment.
Utusan Malaysia reported that the incident caused the entire hostel block to be destroyed, leaving 103 male students traumatised.
Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Quran Raudhatul Ulum (Butterworth) May 11, 2016
Five students and a religious teacher managed to escape a fire that destroyed the two-storey Madrasah Tahfiz Al-Quran Raudhatul Ulum hostel, according to Bernama.
The fire occurred around 12.45am and required the Penang Fire and Rescue Department to battle the flames for 45 minutes to prevent it from spreading. It took them three hours to put out the fire.
The school's owner, Abdullah Ahmad, 71 said he was sleeping at the building's ground floor when he realised there was a fire.
The building was completely destroyed, with Abdullah placing his losses at RM600,000.
Maahad Tahfiz Darul Itqan Al-Muhammadi (Sabak Bernam) March 7, 2016
Sixty students from Maahad Tahfiz Darul Itqan Al-Muhammadi escaped with their lives when one of their own woke up at 5am to discover the fire and raised the alarm.
Malay daily Sinar Harian reported Muhammad Farhan Roslani, 18, as saying he was awoken by a strong smell of smoke but saw no signs of fire.
âI didn't see anything when I woke up but I felt something wasn't right. I walked out of my dorm and a raging fire at our store room. I panicked, yelled and woke my friends from sleep to escape,â he said.
Sabak Bernam fire chief Abdul Nasir Jalil said the Fire and Rescue Department received the phone call regarding the incident at 5.24am. It took them around 15 minutes to control the fire before putting it out completely at 6.13am.
Around 70 per cent of the building was reported damaged.
Madrasah Baitul Hamdi (Alor Gajah) July 6, 2014
Around 80 per cent of Madrasah Baitul Hamdi's female hostel was gutted by fire in an incident that occurred around 1pm while the students were conducting prayer activities and yassin recitals next door.
Utusan Malaysia reported that Alor Gajah district Fire and Rescue Department received the call at 1.51pm and arrived on scene at 2 .05pm.
Department chief Bajiyen Ramiah said 27 firefighters and four engines from Alor Gajah, Masjid Tanah, Ayer Keroh and Bukit Katil were deployed to combat the blaze.
âBy the time we got there, the fire was spreading fast because it is a wooden building,â he said.
The fire was put out by 2.51pm and thankfully no one was hurt. However, 18 students lost their belongings in the fire.
Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah (Sungai Petani) June 15, 2013
First year student, Aiman Nurhakim Yahya, 13, lost his life in the fire that engulfed Maahad Tahfiz Al-Barakah while two of his friends, Meor Amirul Meor Mohd Ghazali, 16, and Mohamad Muaz Halim, 14 were injured.
Bernama reported that survivor Mohammad Iszuddin Mohd Iszam, 14, said he was woken up by a friend at around 2am
âI quickly woke four others, including Aiman who was sleeping at the end of the room. Everyone else has escaped. We thought Aiman escaped too b ut he was still inside. It was a wooden house (hostel) and the fire spread so quickly we couldn't do anything for Aiman,â he said.
Kedah Fire and Rescue Department director Ahmad Shahabuddin said by the time his team of two engines and 16 fire fighters arrived on scene, around 50 per cent of the building was already gone.
âWe were informed of the missing victim. By the time we found him, he was already charred,â said Ahmad Shahabuddin.
Sekolah Agama Rakyat Taufikiah Al-Halimiah (Kampung Padang Lumat) September 22, 1989
The worse tahfiz school fire occurred at Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR) Taufikiah Al-Halimiah, Kampung Padang Lumat, Kedah, and killed 27 female students in their sleep on September 22, 1989.
Candles were used to light up the dormitory, and one is believed to have fallen and caused the fire.
The flames spread through eight wooden hostels that were said to be firetraps.