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Panic set on a village in Kendal Regency, Central Java recently when one house went up in flames, only for villagers to later learn that the fire represented the home owner’s cry for attention.

At around 10pm on Saturday, fire engulfed the whole back section of a house in Pucangrejo Village. Its sole inhabitant, 35-year-old Ahmad Jamal, survived the blaze.

That’s because, according to his neighbor 50-year-old Suratin, Ahmad set his own house on fire.

“Ahmad has been stressed out, he said he deliberately set the house on fire to attract a crowd. Praise God, we managed to prevent the fire from reaching other houses,” he said.

It took about two hours for firefighters, assisted by local residents, to successfully put out the fire.

Villagers say Ahmad is mentally unstable. He lives alone in the house as his parents live elsewhere while his sister is a domestic worker in Hong Kong. They say they had often taken him to receive psychiatric counseling in nearby Semarang city whenever he would act out in public.

Pucangrejo Chief Agus Riyanto said the village will extend financial aid to fix Ahmad’s house regardless of the circumstances that led to the fire. The money, he said, will come from the village’s COVID-19 emergency fund. 

Ahmad reportedly will not face any criminal charges for causing the fire.

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