Residents of Toa Payoh block left without water, gas and electricity after fire at void deck

The aftermath of the fire at the void deck of Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh.
The aftermath of the fire at the void deck of Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh. ST PHOTO: REVATHI VALLUVAR
The aftermath of the fire at the void deck of Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh.
The aftermath of the fire at the void deck of Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh. ST PHOTO: REVATHI VALLUVAR
A worker inspects the damage to the void deck's ceiling.
A worker inspects the damage to the void deck's ceiling. ST PHOTO: REVATHI VALLUVAR

SINGAPORE - Residents at a Housing Board block in Toa Payoh were without electricity for at least 17 hours on Tuesday (June 20), more than half a day after a fire at the void deck. 

Electricity was progressively restored from 10pm. Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Sakitandi Supaat told The Straits Times at 10.13pm that workers were "working hard to replace the wiring as 100 per cent of the wiring is destroyed".

He said that one of the lifts was working, and water and gas supply were available from the afternoon.

The lights in the lobby were also up, he said, but electricity to the individual units "will be ready around midnight as I was told by the Town Council that the wiring replacement took some time".

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Police evacuated some 50 residents from levels two to six at Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh after the fire broke out at around 4.51am on Tuesday. 

The blaze at Block 14A Lorong 7 Toa Payoh, which involved discarded materials, was put out using dry powder extinguisher and compressed air foam, said a Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman. 

A woman in her 60s was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital. 

While the damage done by the fire was not clear, the block's gas and electrical supply was cut off, and was still not back up when The Straits Times visited in the evening. Some residents The Straits Times spoke to said that their water supply was also affected. 

The Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council had said earlier on Tuesday afternoon that it was in the process of restoring water and electrical supply to the block. 

"Residents should have access to utilities by 6pm today, barring any unforeseen circumstances," it added. However, when ST visited at about 7.20pm on Tuesday, the electricity was still out and the lobby and building were dark.

One resident on the fourth floor, 15-year-old student Cheng Mei Lin said: "My family can't use the rice cooker because there's no electricity and I can't even see anything in the bathroom."

She added that it was very hot.

A light bulb was set up at the lobby, but there appeared to be no electricity supplied to the rest of the building, and representatives from the Residents' Committee distributed lights and torches to residents.

Nigel Lee, a 20-year-old student who lives on the 19th floor, said the food in his fridge has probably been spoiled.

At least two residents said they were told the electricity would now be restored between 10 and 11pm.

When The Straits Times visited the block earlier at 10.30am, construction workers were hosing down the area affected by the fire. The site was also cordoned off.

The fire appeared to have damaged parts of the void deck's ceiling, with exposed pipes and wiring visible. A sign declaring that gas pipeline works were in progress was also put up.


A sign warning that gas pipeline works are in progress. ST PHOTO: REVATHI VALLUVAR  

Security guard Kumar Veerasamy, 52, was sitting at the void deck at around 3am when he smelled smoke and walked over to see a sofa burning. 

"There were other things there also, like a mattress. I tried to move them away so they wouldn't burn, with the help of residents from upstairs," he said.

Retiree Henry Yeow, 70, who lives on the 16th floor, said he was awoken by the smell of smoke and his flat subsequently experienced a blackout. 

He claimed that the sofa which caught fire had been at the void deck for around two to three days. 

But in its statement, the Town Council said its conservancy workers did a final check of the area around the block at 6pm on Monday and did not find any sofa or mattress. 

"It is likely the items were discarded at the void deck after our workers had completed their tasks for the day," the statement added. 

"Our conservancy workers did a final check of the area around Block 14A at 6pm yesterday evening (June 19) and there was no sofa or mattress," said the Town Council.

"Every day, the workers when cleaning the estate will be looking out for discarded items and removing them. Town Council’s property officers will inform residents of potential fire hazard and safety issues pertaining to the items placed outside their respective units. Residents can also call the Town Council for its free Bulky Removal Service to throw away unwanted items instead of leaving them at the common areas."