A ComfortDelGro MaxiCab just one month away from being scrapped burst into flames on Lorong Chuan Friday night.
Driver Remy Tan, 49, said he was as on his way from Chai Chee to the National University of Singapore to meet a friend when smoke started pouring out from under the hood when he turned into Lorong Chuan. The strong, bitter smell of smoke drove him to radio his colleague for help at about 7.15pm.
While his colleague called the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Mr Tan rushed to gather his belongings - such as his iPad and mobile phone - and dashed out of the car. In his panic, he recalled, even opening the door was a struggle. The front of the car soon burst into flames as he escaped.
"I saw smoke, I saw fire, I just cabut (fled). I ran far away, because I was scared also," he said. "If it exploded, how? A car is a car. Life is more important."
As he watched from a distance, the flames engulfed the seven-seater in flames until all that could be seen was a ball of fire.
When The Straits Times arrived at the scene at 8pm, SCDF officers were still milling around the charred and sooty car. The seats had been completely burned, leaving their metal frames exposed.
Mr Tan, who is married with four children - the youngest 16 and the oldest 27, has been driving the cab for over a year. The white Mercedes-Benz Vito is nearly seven years old, he said.
His colleague, who arrived at the scene a little after 8pm, said this is the second or third case of this particular model catching fire since last year.