Motorcycle burst into flames in Sembawang

The motorcycle caught fire at the junction of Sembawang Way and Canberra Road at about 7.30am yesterday. No injuries were reported.
The motorcycle caught fire at the junction of Sembawang Way and Canberra Road at about 7.30am yesterday. No injuries were reported.PHOTO: STOMP

A Motorcycle burst into flames in Sembawang yesterday, the latest in a string of vehicle fires lately.

No injuries were reported in the incident at the junction of Sembawang Way and Canberra Road at about 7.30am.

Vehicle fires are increasing at a striking pace. There have been 53 incidents between January and March, a 26 per cent rise from the 42 in the same period last year, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

Last year 218 fires were recorded, up from 202 in 2012.

An SCDF advisory on preventing and handling vehicle fires issued earlier this year pointed to overheating and electrical faults within the engine compartment as the most common causes.

The increasing numbers of older vehicles on the road, coupled with poor maintenance, unauthorised modifications and sub-par repair services, could also be behind the higher incidence of such fires, said industry players.

Cars aged between eight and 10 years old made up about 21.1 per cent of total car numbers as of March this year, up from just 4.2 per cent in 2003, according to the Land Transport Authority.

"With older vehicles, you have more problems, especially with poor maintenance and previously installed modifications to parts," said Mr Joey Lim, managing director of Harmony Motors, which repairs vehicles. These issues are particularly common in taxis, which accounted for three of the last eight reported fires, said Singapore Motor Workshop Association president Francis Lim.

"Taxis are used for very long hours and generate very high temperatures that can lead to wire short-circuiting in the engine compartment," he added.

"They are also fixed with lots of gadgets such as GPS navigators and meter readers, so they have a lot of wiring modifications."

Car owners could also be getting low-quality repairs as vehicle workshops and mechanics are not regulated, he noted.

The SCDF advises motorists to have regular servicing and checks on electrical, engine and fuel systems.

Drivers are also encouraged to keep a constant lookout for signs of oil leakage and keep a fire extinguisher in the vehicle.

hpeishan@sph.com.sg