KUALA LUMPUR: "I called the Fire and Rescue Department yesterday at 5.38am when I realised fire had broken out at the tahfiz school," said Norsuhaizah Jumaat.
The 32-year-old civil servant, who lives across the street from the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz school, said she woke up upon hearing noises and someone screaming for help.
"I saw two boys screaming 'Tolong! Api!’ (Help! Fire!) at the window when I woke up.
"I could only manage to shout at them 'Keluar ikut pintu!’ (Run out through the door) before I made the emergency call," she said when met at the scene today.
Norsuhaizah is believed to be the first person to alert the authorities to the fire, as the Department said it received its first distress call at 5.41am.
Norsuhaizah, who is also an Asean Para Games 2017 volunteer, said while making the call, she saw several students sliding down an exposed external pipe from the upper floors.
"I saw one of them landing on the awning, then falling to the ground.
"I am not sure about the fate of the two boys whom I heard screaming for help from the window. I pray that they managed to get out.
"I hope they are not among the 23 victims," she said.
Norsuhaizah said that the fire spread extremely rapidly, preventing neighbours from entering the scene.
"I only saw fire sparks at first, but within seconds, the fire spread. I could even feel the heat from my house.
"We couldn’t do anything but wait for the rescue team to arrive," she said.
Norsuhaizah added that she is still shaking and traumatised over the incident.
"I was not able to sleep yesterday. I kept having flash backs to the moments when the students were begging for help," she said.
Questions have been raised over why the city Fire and Rescue Department was only alerted to the incident almost 30 minutes after the blaze began.