Antara, Jakarta – At least 200 houses were ravaged by fire in a village on Sebuku Island, South Kalimantan Province, early on Sunday, leaving more than 700 people homeless.
The island was located on the Makassar Strait, around 1,100 kilometers northeast of Jakarta. It is part of the Kotabaru district that covers a number of islands in the province.
Local police said they were still investigating the case to determine the cause of the fire, which began to engulf on Saturday night.
"We are still questioning witnesses. Our investigation will determine if this is arson or negligence leading to the accident, because someone must take legal consequence for this," Kotabaru District Police Chief Commissioner Andi Adnan Syafruddin told the Antara news agency.
According to witness accounts, the fire started from the home of a resident.
"But this is only an allegation as we haven't got any supporting evidence. What we are doing is making sure if it may go to criminal investigation or is simply an accident that doesn't require any legal action," he said.
Sungai Bali, one of eight villages on the island, has a population of around 1,500 people or 420 families, according to the government statistics.
The fire also completely destroyed a local police station and a five-room police dormitory on the island. Sungai Bali village serves as the central administration of the island.
Andi said humanitarian supplies for the affected residents from local companies, the government and other donors had begun pouring to the island. The police deployed two patrol boats to help transport the supplies from the main island, he said.