SINGAPORE - SCDF firefighters have put out the fire at the CK Building at Tampines Street 92, more than 16 hours after it was first reported at 1.30pm on Wednesday (Aug 17).
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said in a Facebook post at around 2.45pm that the fire was "raging on the 3rd and 4th floor of No. 39, Tampines Street 92". The blaze affected the fourth to sixth floors of the building, which were used as a warehouse.
When The Straits Times visited the scene at 1am, SCDF officers were seen still trying to put out the fire.
At 8.47am, SCDF posted an update on their Facebook page that their officers have extinguished the fire at approximately 6am this morning and that the damping down operation is currently in progress.
"The firefighter who was injured yesterday has also been discharged from hospital, and is on medical leave," SCDF added in the post.
Responding to media queries, the police said 67 people were evacuated from the burning CK Building.
The SCDF deployed multiple water jets on the outside of the building to contain the fire. Five fire engines, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes, 12 support vehicles and two ambulances were initially dispatched to the scene.
It said in a Facebook post at 7.35pm efforts to keep the fire under control had been successful enough that firefighters could switch to tackling the "deep seated fire" from within the CK Building. Several teams entered with caution and were using breathing apparatus sets to move through the smoky darkness.
According to the SCDF, the premises contain highly flammable goods such as paper products and aerosol cans, making it too hot and dangerous for firefighters to approach from within the building at first. Some of the household aerosol cans sparked small explosions within the building.
Addressing the media at 6pm outside the burning building, Assistant Commissioner Ling Young Ern, the SCDF Operations Department Director, said that 110 officers and 27 emergency vehicles were deployed for the fire.
This is the largest deployment of SCDF vehicles and firefighters in an industrial estate fire this year.
It is also the first time that four crane-like aerial appliances were used concurrently for a fire of this sort.
SCDF added that the fire is "well under control" and that there were no injuries reported besides a firefighter sent to hospital earlier for heat exhaustion. He has since been discharged with a clean bill of health.
The cause of fire is still under investigation, it added, and it will need time to fully extinguish the embers inside the building.
An onlooker, who declined to be named, said that he arrived when the fire started in a warehouse of the building, where merchandise for the CK Departmental Store was kept. It then spread to the upper floors, and there were multiple explosions.
"I discovered the fire," said Mr Liu Chang Dong, 44, a cleaner who works in the building next door. "I was cleaning the floor, when I saw that there was smoke. I quickly told our security guard, who called the fire department.
"The fire alarm at the building that caught fire had also started ringing and the bosses were running out, looking frantic. There were people running out from the stairwell when I looked out. I didn't see any injured people."
A CK employee who declined to be identified said he was working on the third floor of the building when the fire alarm sounded.
Suspecting that the fire started on the floor above, he added that he smelled smoke but did not think it was very serious.
He left the building following evacuation orders.
Straits Times readers sent in photos and videos of the fire, which sent plumes of black smoke into the air. The smoke could be seen from the surrounding areas, including Bedok North, the Bayshore area and from as far away as Kallang.
One of the readers, Ms Georgina Koh, told The Straits Times that the fire began at about 1.50pm and that the whole building looked to be on fire. She added that she saw water being used to fight it about 10 minutes later.
Mr Chin, a computer technician, said that he was evacuated at around 1.50pm. "We heard the alarm and were evacuated at around 1.50pm. We knew there was a fire and were watching from the next building, to see if we should evacuate. It was a small fire that started on the third level. But soon, the fire grew and the glass started breaking."
CK employees, who were ushered away from the scene at around 2.50pm, looked worried and declined comment to the media.
"We saw white smoke at around 1.30pm or so, on the third floor, and came out of the building. After seeing that it got serious, we informed others to get their colleagues out," said Mr Jason Soon, 43, marketing director of Vishay Intertechnology Asia in the building next door.
"It spread to the upper levels and we started hearing multiple explosions. We thought it was a fire that could be out in a short time," he said. "There was no orderly evacuation of people. It was all through word of mouth and some were even told to go back to work in the building next door."
Technician Mariam Musa, 25, who works in the building next door, said: "I was in the building next door, and there was a commotion when I just got in. We were at level four, and a lot of black smoke was coming out from the front and sides of the whole building."
The SCDF tweeted at 3.34pm that intense heat from the fire was impeding firefighting efforts in the building.
It also said on Facebook that StarHub mobile subscribers would have received a text message urging people to stay away from the area.