No injuries from fire, thanks to neighbours

The fire broke out on the 12th floor of Block 117, Bedok North Road (left). Mr Salleh (below), an SCDF staff sergeant who lives next to the affected unit, was alerted by the cries for help from the home owner's daughter.
The fire broke out on the 12th floor of Block 117, Bedok North Road (above). PHOTOS: GABRIEL CHIN, DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The fire broke out on the 12th floor of Block 117, Bedok North Road (left). Mr Salleh (below), an SCDF staff sergeant who lives next to the affected unit, was alerted by the cries for help from the home owner's daughter.
Mr Salleh (above), an SCDF staff sergeant who lives next to the affected unit, was alerted by the cries for help from the home owner's daughter.PHOTOS: GABRIEL CHIN, DANIEL NEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A flat on the 12th floor of Block 117, Bedok North Road, caught fire yesterday evening but due in part to valiant efforts by neighbours - including an off-duty Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) firefighter - no one was injured.

The fire involved the contents of the utility room, and was extinguished using a water jet.

Staff Sergeant Salleh Ismail, 32, who lives next door, was alerted by cries for help from the home owner's daughter. He said: "I quickly opened the sliding windows of the burning flat to let the smoke out so I'd have better visibility when I entered."

Going inside, he checked that no one was trapped in the flat. One door was locked, but the room was later confirmed to be empty.

Together with three others, he began dousing the fire with pails of water before the SCDF arrived.

Mr Salleh also worked to evacuate residents on the 12th and 13th floors, as he was worried that the smoke would trigger an attack for people with asthmatic conditions.

The SCDF dispatched help after receiving a call at 5.25pm.

Another helpful neighbour was 72-year-old Poh Kok Fai, who was putting his clothes out to dry on the ninth floor when he saw occupants of flats in the opposite block gesticulating at the fire above him.

He called the police and helped the firefighters with the hose reel, but said the SCDF had to use a fire hydrant "very far away" when the one nearest to the flat did not work.

He was concerned enough to raise the "matter of life and death" with an officer after the fire was put out.

He asked: "What if the whole flat had been on fire?"

Other residents on those floors said they shut their windows and doors upon smelling the smoke, while others did not notice a fire had occurred, and went about their usual routines.

At press time, the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

The visibly shaken family declined to comment, but were seen speaking to staff from the town council.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2016, with the headline 'No injuries from fire, thanks to neighbours'. Print Edition | Subscribe