Heroes of Telok Blangah fire commended

Ms Sharita Kamarudin (left), who helped evacuate four children; and Mr Sofian Amin (second from left), who helped housewife Baedah Hassan (right) out of her flat; with Mount Faber Zone C Residents' Committee chairman Alex Wong.
Ms Sharita Kamarudin (left), who helped evacuate four children; and Mr Sofian Amin (second from left), who helped housewife Baedah Hassan (right) out of her flat; with Mount Faber Zone C Residents' Committee chairman Alex Wong.PHOTO: NIVASH JOYVIN FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Plaques awarded to those who demonstrated kampung spirit by helping those in distress

Three weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, Madam Baedah Hassan was about to go out when she noticed thick smoke billowing outside her 10th storey Telok Blangah Rise flat.

A fire had broken out near the lift landing on her floor.

The 75-year-old housewife was paralysed by fear.

She heard people shouting from the ground floor, asking residents above to leave their flats.

"My heart was beating fast. I wanted to leave, but I saw flames leaping at me outside the flat," she said.

Her son Azman Yahya, 51, a deliveryman with whom she lives, was at work.

From various ends of the estate, at least 10 people rushed to aid Madam Baedah and others, while also trying to put out the fire.

The cause of the blaze is yet to be determined. There were no casualties.

For their efforts, the heroes were yesterday lauded by Radin Mas MP Sam Tan, who gave them commendation plaques on behalf of Mount Faber Zone C Residents' Committee.

Mr Tan, who is Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and Minister of State for Manpower, said their efforts were an example of the kampung spirit still alive among residents in the area.

Mr Sofian Amin, 32, was visiting his mother-in-law on the seventh floor of the block when he heard shouts. "I looked up and saw that it was quite a big fire," said the operations manager at a security firm, who served his full-time national service as a firefighter. He ran up to the 10th floor to investigate and saw Madam Baedah in her flat.

He helped her out of her home and guided her to the staircase, where 52-year-old Mr Kamaruzaman Abu Bakar, who works in the maritime sector, aided her down to the ground floor.

Mr Kamaruzaman's wife, Ms Sharita Kamarudin, 33, also helped evacuate four children who were alone at home in their 10th storey flat.

Mr Sofian also tried to put out the blaze, together with other residents. "I grabbed a bucket from an empty flat and started pouring water on the fire," he said.

While they did not manage to extinguish the fire, their efforts helped keep it from growing.

Meanwhile, cleaning supervisor Poovantrian Andanseeni, 50, who was in the area, got word of the fire. He rushed down and guided a team of eight cleaners to successfully put out the blaze with the help of firefighters who later arrived at the scene.

They did so with a water jet, which was being used to wash the floor on the fifth storey.

"At the time I wasn't scared, I only saw that we needed to put the fire and safeguard the residents," said Mr Poovantrian, who also served his full-time national service as a firefighter. "I saw the other residents trying to help out too. We were strangers, but we had the common intention to put out the fire."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 26, 2017, with the headline 'Heroes of Telok Blangah fire commended'. Print Edition | Subscribe