Fire at Changi Airport Terminal 2: T2 receives all-clear, flights resume progressively

VIDEO: ST READER
Police rolling out a cordon at door 6 of T2 departure.ST VIDEO: KOK XING HUI
People standing on the tarmac after the departure hall in Changi Airport Terminal 2 was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.
People standing on the tarmac after the departure hall in Changi Airport Terminal 2 was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.ST PHOTO: AILEEN TEO
Airport staff giving instructions to people gathered on the tarmac, after the departure hall in Changi Airport Terminal 2 was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.
Airport staff giving instructions to people gathered on the tarmac, after the departure hall in Changi Airport Terminal 2 was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.ST PHOTO: AILEEN TEO
People gathered on the tarmac at Changi Airport Terminal 2, after the departure hall was evacuated on May 16, 2017.
People gathered on the tarmac at Changi Airport Terminal 2, after the departure hall was evacuated on May 16, 2017.PHOTO: MARCUS LIM
People standing on the tarmac, after the Changi Airport Terminal 2 departure hall was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.
People standing on the tarmac, after the Changi Airport Terminal 2 departure hall was evacuated, on May 16, 2017.PHOTO: MARCUS LIM
A fire broke out in Changi Airport Terminal 2 on May 16, 2017.
A fire broke out in Changi Airport Terminal 2 on May 16, 2017.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/LEONG TAR BOON
Airport staff at Changi Terminal 1 telling passengers that the Skytrain to Terminal 2 is not in operation, and asking them to go to the Terminal 3 assembly area for further instructions, on May 16, 2017.
Airport staff at Changi Terminal 1 telling passengers that the Skytrain to Terminal 2 is not in operation, and asking them to go to the Terminal 3 assembly area for further instructions, on May 16, 2017.ST PHOTO: KOK XINGHUI

SINGAPORE - A fire broke out at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on Tuesday (May 16) evening, resulting in passengers being evacuated and flights diverted to Terminal 3.

The fire was put out about an hour later but passengers were told to expect significant delays as all flights out of T2 were grounded during the evening peak period.

CAG said in a media statement at 11.45pm on Tuesday that about 40 flights at T2 were affected and six people required medical assistance.

Traffic to T2 was blocked off,  resulting in long jams building up as travellers make their way to other terminals. Long queues formed at T3 where departing passengers were diverted to.

It was only at about 10pm that the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) gave the all-clear to T2. Flights were expected to resume progressively, starting with some arriving flights.

"Meeters and greeters are advised to check our website or iChangi app for the specific flight details," Changi Airport said in an update on its Facebook page.

Arrivals scheduled from 2247 to 0005 had all landed when ST visited T2 at 12.13am on Wednesday (May 17).

Other arriving flights from past midnight were confirmed, with only a few delayed.

The arrival hall was bustling with activity but the departure hall remained quiet, and a joint patrol team with officers from the Singapore Armed Forces and Singapore Police Force was seen there.

Singapore Airlines said it will provide updates on flight timings on its Facebook page, adding that it was working closely with the airport authority and agencies to ensure flights can be resumed in the shortest time possible. 

The police said in a Facebook post that they were alerted to a fire at the departure hall of Changi Airport T2 at 5.43pm. 

Smoke was seen coming through the air vents, according to passengers. The fire alarm was activated and passengers were evacuated. Departing flights were grounded, and arriving passengers were asked to disembark onto the tarmac.

A spokesman for the Changi Airport Group (CAG) told The Straits Times that the fire alarm was activated at Changi Airport T2 at about 5.40pm due to smoke coming through the air vents. "Evacuation of the terminal was initiated and the Changi Airport Emergency Service team is onsite," said the spokesman. 

Changi Airport said in an update on its Facebook page at 6.38pm that it had identified the cause of the fire. 

"The situation is under control. Flight operations at T2 are affected. We seek the understanding of the public," it said.

The Straits Times understands that the fire may have started at the aircon unit area at level 5. 

The SCDF, in an update on its Facebook page at about 7pm,  said the small fire was put out using a hosereel jet.

Multimedia videographer Aileen Teo, 26, told ST that she was at the T2 hangar with more than 100 people evacuated from the planes.

She had landed when she was evacuated at about 6.30pm. The evacuees were told to wait for instructions, and most appeared calm, with some directed to wait at the hangar and others directed to various exits.

"When we touched down, we were told to evacuate," said Ms Teo. "People are quite OK, there are some sitting on the ground waiting for instructions. We were given water and toilet breaks are being arranged."

ST understands that people were evacuated from the entire departure hall for safety concerns.

  • Timeline of events

  • 5.40pm: Smoke is seen coming through the air vents at Terminal 2. Fire alarm 2 activates, starting  an evacuation. Departing flights are grounded. Arriving passengers disembark onto the tarmac.

    6.38pm:  Changi Airport  says situation is under control and fire's cause identified.  But adds flight operations at T2 affected. By this time, traffic to T2 is blocked off. Long jams build up as travellers make their way way to T1.

    7.04pm: SCDF says a "small" fire has been put out using a hosereel jet.

    7.29pm: Changi Airport  tells passengers departing from T2 to expect "significant delays". Those departing T2 are being told to gather at T3 to await instructions.

    8.45pm: Affected passengers are told to head to bus bays for briefing by airline representatives. Exhaust fans are run to clear smell of smoke in T2  as cleaning process begins. 

    9pm: Details on which T3 rows to head to for check-in for diverted flights are revealed. Passengers start to make their way to the departure hall.

    10pm: SCDF gives all-clear for T2. Changi Airport announces that flight operations are to resume progressively, starting with some arriving flights.

ST reader Stella Koh also sent pictures of people being evacuated from planes to the tarmac.

Ms Koh, a 27-year-old sales manager, said her husband Marcus Lim was heading to Kuala Lumpur.

He said it was very smoky, and he was initially barred from entering when he tried to get through customs.

The 31-year-old business development manager saw people being evacuated onto the tarmac when he was at the departure gate.

He later managed to get on his Singapore Airlines flight, as the part of the terminal he was at was not affected. However, Ms Koh said other flights were delayed.

SBS Transit said in a tweet at 6.57pm that a few bus services were skipping a stop at Changi Airport due to the fire, and SMRT later tweeted a similar advisory.

Singapore Airlines said in a Facebook post at 7.50pm that all Singapore Airlines flights departing and arriving in T2 will be delayed until further notice due to the fire.

Photos and videos posted on social media showed smoke in the hall and many people being evacuated.