Campbell Shopping Complex fire

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The Campbell Shopping Complex fire was a major disaster in Malaysia which took place on 8 April 1976 at Jalan Campbell (now Jalan Dang Wangi), Kuala Lumpur. The entire shopping complex including its 20-storey office tower block was completely destroyed in a fire. It was Malaysia's first towering inferno and its worst fire disaster involving a high-rise building to date. The fire, which started at 10:30 pm, lasted for nearly 30 hours, claiming the life of one victim, Yap Leong Hoem, 59, as well as the total losses of RM50 million. The cause of the fire was an electrical short circuit.

The building burnt for nearly 30 hours and fortunately, it did not collapse entirely, but one section of the podium did collapse due to the intense heat. The building was only three years old at the time of the blaze, having been opened in 1973, which was at that time Kuala Lumpur's first high-rise shopping complex. It was kept under repair and reconstructed for a few years after the blaze before it was reopened to the public around 1979.

Trivia[edit]

  • The late Tan Sri Lim Thiam Leong, the chairman and founder of Bolton Berhad, the company which owned the building, was reported to be calm and composed when he heard of the incident.
  • The incident also highlighted the standards of fire safety in high-rise buildings in the country as well as the limited fire-fighting capabilities at that time. Laws were eventually passed to ensure that high-rise premises must meet certain standards of fire safety, e.g., the issuing of certificates before they can be deemed fit for dwelling or commercial purposes.
  • There was even a proposal to have the tower block of the complex demolished shortly after the fire because it was initially thought that the intense heat from the blaze might have weakened the reinforced concrete structure of the building. However, this was averted after examinations done by competent engineers proved otherwise.

References[edit]

The Straits Times Archive Article April 9, 1976, Page 1, [1]