At 11.35, as your reporter was enjoying a late breakfast in Ya Udah in Jalan Jaksa, Central Jakarta, with a colleague, a loud cry emerged from the gang
(alley) opposite.Fire, Fire!
Black smoke was visible pluming above and behind the billiard hall on the other side of the street. And so another Jakarta kampung was destroyed, probably caused by the overturning of a kerosene stove generally used by poorer households.
The street quickly filled with residents and onlookers. We had a ringside seat as personal possessions were hauled out of the densly populated area. First came the TVs, followed by clothes and precious ornaments.
The fire brigade arrived at noon, followed, five minutes later, by a policeman from the station 300 metres away. Given the inadequate and outdated equipment, the fire brigade were magnificent. In spite of the well-meaning efforts of local residents and leaking hoses, they performed efficiently.
At one point your reporter left his ringside seat to investigate further. A total of 13 fire tenders were counted; the police had used a similar number of large Honda motorcycles to block through traffic. When questioned, onlookers estimated that a total of twenty houses had been destroyed.
Emotions ran high, there was a great wailing as the newly homeless sat beside their rescued possesions and rang, on their handphones, their families..
TV crews arrived at 12.25 and left twenty minutes later. You can see what I have seen later this evening.