Five hurt in flash fire at Beach Road hotpot restaurant

SINGAPORE - FIVE women ended up in hospital with scalds and burns, some on their faces, from a fire at a hotpot restaurant early on Saturday morning.

Two women suffered third degree burns on their faces, and three others were hurt in the accident that occurred at about 3.45am at a Beach Road eatery.

Miss Linda Er, 39, was eating at Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat on Saturday with a friend, while two Thai women were sitting at the neighbouring table, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

The portable stove for Ms Er's hotpot kept turning off, and it emitted clicking noises. A waiter at the restaurant fixed the stove, and they continued eating, but just as they were leaving, there was a boom and she felt intense heat rush to her face, Wanbao reported.

Mr Er's friend Kohji Zhuo, 32, visited her on Monday night. Ms Er and a Thai girl sitting at the next table both suffered third degree burns, he said.

"She can't move her left arm and the other arm is blistered," Mr Zhuo told The Straits Times, adding that Miss Er could not eat due to her injuries.

The Thai girl's arms were both bandaged in photos seen by reporters. Ms Er's dining companion has been discharged from hospital.

The owner of the hotpot restaurant said this was the first time this has happened.

He suspects that the gas canister was faulty, but he assured the Wanbao reporter that they used good quality equipment.

The owner of the restaurant visited the victims in hospital to discuss compensation, and brought them hampers, Mr Zhuo said.

"But they need to explain how this happened, and make sure it is safe," he said.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it was alerted to the incident at 87 Beach Road at around 4am. Five casualties were taken to the Singapore General Hospital.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.