Abdul Rahman Al-Khatarish
JAZAN — A brother and his sister were killed and three others were injured Thursday when a house caught fire in Jazan.
People in the neighborhood rescued other members of the family who were trapped inside the burning house.
Although a Civil Defense unit was stationed half a kilometer from the house, it took firefighters a long time to reach the scene. Eyewitnesses said only one firefighter was initially dispatched to douse the fire and it took a long time for support units to arrive.
One witness said he and his neighbors had to put their lives on the line to help the family members who got trapped in the blaze. “Firefighters showed up late and some of them tried to use the hoses of nearby houses to put out the fire.” One firefighter attributed the delay to narrow streets in the area.
One of the neighbors went into the burning house to save an elderly woman who got stuck inside and could not get out.
He was on his way home when he saw the flames and smoke bellowing from the house. He rushed immediately to the scene. He also saw a firefighter faint due to smoke inhalation. The officer was not carrying an oxygen cylinder.
The Civil Defense operations room received a call at 3:55 A.M. Thursday saying a house was on fire, said Capt. Yahya Al-Qahtani, Civil Defense spokesman. “It was an old house with four rooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms.
Two family members were killed and a number of others injured. All the injured were taken to Jazan Hospital. Some citizens helped us transport the injured,” he added.
Police are currently investigating the accident as foul play was suspected.
The family could not receive the bodies for burial because of a dispute between the police and the Civil Defense about procedures of the investigation into the fire.
Hussein Sadiq, a relative of the family, said: “We were pained by the loss of our beloved ones. We cannot receive their bodies because officials were arguing about the fire disaster, which is adding to our sorrow. Their argument continued for two hours without any consideration for our psychological state.”
Muhammad Al-Sumaili, spokesman for Jazan Health Affairs, said the Jazan Hospital kept the bodies in the morgue and provided treatment to the injured.
Maj. Gen. Abdul Rahman Al-Zahrani, spokesman for Jazan police, said they have to ascertain whether foul play was involved before releasing the bodies for burial.