PETALING JAYA, Selangor: The fire which broke out at the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) building in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday (Feb 13) was believed to have been caused by sparks during maintenance work on the first floor, outside the building.
The sparks ignited an inflammable polyfoam cladding that was used for the building's structure.
"Based on preliminary checks and investigations, the cladding for the building used inflammable materials and it was not approved by any party," said Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general (operations) Soiman Jahid.
“The fire began from the first floor (outside) where maintenance work was being carried out. The wind and hot weather also contributed to the spread of the fire," he told reporters at the scene.
He added that the fire involved the exterior walls of the building and part of the interior on the sixth floor.
Photos and video circulating on messaging platforms and social media show the building engulfed in flames and thick smoke.
According to Twitter user Balthazar, the fire "spread within minutes" with smoke obscuring the top part of the building.
Soiman said 527 employees who were in the building were evacuated to an open area nearby. None of them were injured.
"The fire station received a distress call at 11.52am and firemen arrived seven minutes later. Operation to douse the flame took about 30 minutes," he said.
Soiman said it was the first fire incident involving inflammable cladding in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya deputy police chief Ku Mashariman Ku Mahmood confirmed there was no foul play in the incident. The Fire and Rescue Department is expected to have a full report ready in a week on the fire.
EPF said in a statement later on Tuesday that the fire was restricted mainly to the exterior of the building and some cars parked alongside it. It added that its systems were not affected and business was operating as usual for all functions.
“The data were never in any danger of being compromised by the fire as our data servers are in a secured remote location and supported by world class back-up and recovery procedures.
Based on news records, the building, which was built in 1960, had served as the EPF headquarters for 35 years, from 1960 to 1995.
The building is located near the Federal Highway and serves as a landmark for Klang Valley residents to determine the boundary between Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
It underwent renovation in 2004 to house an Information Technology Department and the EPF Selangor office.
It currently serves as a one-stop centre for savings withdrawal, registration of new members and employers, accepting contribution payments as well as providing latest account statements.