Three senior citizens who perished in a pre-dawn fire that destroyed a row of eight shophouses in Jalan Sungai Emas, Kota Kuala Muda near here, had earlier that night had dinner with family members in Bertam, Penang.

Lee Chew Fong, 61, her husband Lim Yang Kooi, 66, and Chew Fong’s mother Yong Swee Lan, 92, died in the fire.

Chew Fong’s cousin, Linda Yee, 48, said the three who perished in the fire would normally stay in their house in Bertam and return to the shophouse to make preparations to open their business in the morning.

Linda said they had arrived at the premises early to avoid traffic and to prepare for the next day’s business.

“My cousin’s family lived in Bertam since buying a house there about a year ago. They will go to the shophouse in Kota Kuala Muda for business. They are in the clothing and furnishing business..Swee Lan is suffering from old age syndrome and uses a walking stick to move around.

“They looked cheerful during the dinner with other members of the family. I never expected to receive the news of the fire and their death at 6am. Initially I did not fear for the worst but when they informed the address of the people who died, I knew it was them,” she told reporters today.

The owner of another shophouse that was destroyed in the fire, Azizah Jaafar, 70, said she was shocked when informed of the fire that destroyed her shophouses.

“The shophouse was bought by my late husband 20 years ago and I had rented it to run a furniture shop business at RM400 a month,” she said.

The Kedah Fire and Rescue Department director Awang Hidzel Awang Bujang confirmed the charred remains of the first victim was found at 3.19am, the second at 6am and the third at 10.15am.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency