PETALING JAYA: The use of illegal polyethene cladding caused the fire at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) office on Jalan Gasing here to spread rapidly.
Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) deputy Director-General (operations) Datuk Soiman Jahid, who ruled out foul play as the cause, said sparks from ongoing maintenance work at the building triggered the fire on the claddings.
Soiman said the hot weather and strong winds were also factors that contributed to the rapid spreading of the blaze.
The fire which began on the first floor spread rapidly on the outer walls due to the polyethene cladding which are panels installed as thermal insulation and to enhance the appearance of the building. As such, the fire caused minimal damage to the interior of the building.
Soiman pointed out that polyethene cladding is highly combustible if there is a fire source close to it.
"It should not be used on buildings as it is highly flammable. The fire was ignited on these claddings from the maintenance works at the building but fortunately, there was no damage inside the offices or casualties to staff and the public. This is the first time we have had a fire involving the cladding of a building." he said in a press conference at the scene.
Soiman said the use of such cladding breached building laws and is an offence.
He said the FRD will soon send out a notice nationwide to prohibited the use of polyethene cladding due to the fire hazards linked to it.
Soiman said in the past the department had advised builder associations and agencies against the use such claddings.
The fire caused extensive damage to the facade of the building. No casualties were reported as the staff and visitors evacuated the building promptly after a fire alert was triggered. The fire started at about 11.55am.
At 1.40pm the fire was brought under control by the firemen who arrived the scene within minutes after receiving a distress call. The blaze was put out at about 2.10am.
About 70 firemen from four stations here and Kuala Lumpur were involved in the operation.