GEORGE TOWN, October 12 – A fire broke out in the early hours of today at the Kek Lok Si hill temple complex in Air Itam.
Muhamad Norhisham Ibrahim, operations manager of the Penang Fire and Rescue Service (JBPM), said the distress call was received at 2:56 a.m. and a unit of the fire and rescue station de Paya Terubong (BBP) had been dispatched to the scene.
“When the firefighters arrived, flames had engulfed one of the temples on the hill. It took them about an hour to bring the fire under control.
“The fire was completely extinguished around 6 am. Over 70 percent of the 18.5 m² temple was damaged. No life was lost and no one was injured, ”said Muhamad Norhisham, while adding that the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
He said three fire engines and more than 50 firefighters – including from BBP Jalan Perak and the volunteer firefighting forces – have been dispatched.
The largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia is an important place of pilgrimage and a tourist attraction.
Built between 1890 and 1930, it is famous for the seven-story pagoda of Rama VI (Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda) and the 36.57m bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin).
Phone calls and messages for comment from Kek Lok Si temple administrator Datuk Seri Steven Ooi went unanswered. – Bernama