Some 120 villagers were left homeless when fire razed their 16-door longhouse in Sungai Itop yesterday.
The incident happened at 9am in the village which is 6km from Seratok.
Timah Ejau, 60, said she first saw smoke billowing from the ruai (common area) before alerting others.
She said the fire spread quickly and all she could do was to save her grandchildren.
She added that poor connection made it difficult to call the Fire and Rescue Department. “I had to run to a nearby hill to make the emergency call.”
Village head Kupon Ingka, 72, said at the time of the fire many of the villagers were at their farms or out buying groceries in town. Those at the longhouse tried to douse the flames.
“Due to a lack of equipment, the fire eventually destroyed our homes,” said Kupon.
The Fire and Rescue Department here received the distress call 40 minutes after the fire was first spotted.
“When we arrived, the fire had already destroyed most parts of the longhouse,” said fire chief Kho Boo Jang.
Firemen, who took an hour to control the fire, also had problems obtaining water.
“We had to pump water from the nearest river, which is quite a distance from the longhouse.”
The victims are taking shelter at the Rumah Dayak Saratok.