Fire engulfs Sarawak long house

KUCHING, 14 February 2018: More than 200 residents were made homeless when one of Sarawak’s famous long houses burnt to the ground earlier this month.

The Nanga Mgemah Long House, located in the Lemanak region near Taman Negara Batang Ai, in Sarawak, was a popular overnight stop on ‘Borneo’ tours organised by tour operators for overseas visitors.

Recognised as one of a few remaining long houses in Sarawak offering traditional accommodation, tour operators are now scrambling to find alternative long house stays for their tour clients.

No one was injured in the 4 February fire, but the 36-door long-house was totally destroyed. Over 200 residents were made homeless and they are waiting for government support to rebuild the long house a task that could take around six months.

Asian Trails Malaysia confirmed the popular stopover has been removed from the company’s catalogue and overseas partners have been informed.

“At this stage, our teams on the ground are still assessing the situation and trying to find alternative long houses to accommodate guests who are confirmed on tours,” the  company said in a post to travel partners.

“Our two and three-day packages at Lemanak as well as our four-day Lemanak – Batang Ai packages will be put on ‘stop sales’ until alternative accommodation has been found.”

Sarawak’s Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi visited the longhouse villagers according to a Borneo Post report ,13 February, to discuss assistance for the 36 families.

He later announced MYR36,000 in assistance for the community to rebuild their long house as well as another MYR30,000 to rebuild a kindergarten at the longhouse, which was also destroyed in the fire.