On the morning of Wednesday, the teachers quarters at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Batu Bungan in Mulu was engulfed in a deadly fire
There were a total of eight persons staying in the two quarters when the fire broke out following a blackout. According to the Borneo Post Online's report, the fire started at about 5 am on 25 July and was spotted by a male staff about 10 minutes later.
The fire was so intense it took firemen from the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Mulu Airport almost an hour to put it out. The firemen had rushed to the scene at 5.40am and managed to put out the fire at 6.34am, reported the Borneo Post Online.
After having doused the flames, the firemen found a body inside the burnt quarters. It belonged to Catherine Janet Tiwi, a 25-year-old teacher who laid down her life trying to save her two colleagues.
The 25-year-old Catherine, who was already safe, chose to rush back into the burning quarters to save her two colleagues who were still trapped inside.
"There was a blackout and shortly after that, the fire broke out.
"In the chaotic situation, Catherine went back inside and tried to save the two teachers from one of the rooms but found herself trapped and could not escape," Marudi police chief DSP Gabriel Risut was quoted as saying in a report by The Borneo Post Online.
According to DSP Gabriel, the two teachers managed to get out of the quarters and escaped the fire which started from the kitchen and spread very quickly.
Because of Catherine's tragic but heroic act the two teachers are alive. While one of the teachers suffered 22% burns, the other suffered light burns on her feet.
And on Friday, 27 July, at the 27th state-level Teacher's Day ceremony held in Betong, attendees observed a minute of silence to honour Catherine, who didn't think twice before rushing back to save her two colleagues, Nur Syuhada Azahari and Siti Masrina
Sarawak Education Department Director Rakayah Madon, who recalled Catherine's heroic act in her speech, broke down saying, "I have lost my teacher."
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced the setting up of a fund to help Catherine's family and other victims of the fire.
The Sarawak government will allocate RM50,000 to set the ball rolling for the fund.
Catherine, who had been teaching at SK Penghulu Baya Mallang in Apoh, Baram for over a year, is survived by her parents and three brothers.
While her death has been described as a 'great loss' to the school in particular and the Baram community in general, the news of her death was heart-breaking even for the Bau Fire and Rescue station where her father is a firefighter.
"Saving other people's lives is indeed a noble deed and I believe what she had done would always be remembered," her father Tiwi Nios said, adding that her daughter was also a Bomba cadet during her secondary school years in SMK Lake in Bau.