Taxi catches fire in KPE tunnel, causing huge traffic jam; drivers asked to leave vehicles for nearest exit

A Transcab taxi on fire in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) tunnel on Tuesday (Aug 29) night, causing smoke to fill the tunnel.
A Transcab taxi on fire in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) tunnel on Tuesday (Aug 29) night, causing smoke to fill the tunnel. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JENZEN CHOW
The Transcab ablaze in the KPE tunnel on Tuesday (Aug 29) night, causing smoke to fill the tunnel.
The Transcab ablaze in the KPE tunnel on Tuesday (Aug 29) night, causing smoke to fill the tunnel. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JENZEN CHOW

SINGAPORE - A Transcab taxi caught fire in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) tunnel on Tuesday (Aug 29) night, with part of the tunnel closed, and motorists asked to leave their cars and exit the tunnel.

Pictures posted on social media show a red cab on fire, while other videos show smoke filling the tunnel. The Straits Times understands that it was a diesel cab.

The Land Transport Authority in a tweet at 7.20pm advised motorists to avoid lane four due to an accident on the KPE, towards the Tampines Expressway (TPE), after the East Coast Park entrance.

SCDF told The Straits Times that it was alerted to a vehicle fire in the KPE tunnel towards TPE before the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) exit at around 7pm. It dispatched a fire engine and a support vehicle to the location.

The fire, which involved the engine compartment of a taxi, was extinguished by two members of the public using a hosereel before SCDF arrived. ST understands that the taxi driver escaped unhurt.

There were no reported injuries. 

Witnesses say there were announcements asking drivers to leave their cars and exit the tunnels. Some drivers managed to reverse out, but cars were not stopped from entering the tunnel. 

"I saw a lot of smoke but couldn't see what was on fire. There was an announcement asking people to leave the tunnel," said hotelier Doreen Lim, 52, who was in a taxi heading to Sengkang at about 7.25pm. 

Her cab left the tunnel by the Upper Paya Lebar exit.

Housewife Ong Soh Ching told The Straits Times that she entered the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE) at about 7.30pm.

"From Maxwell towards ECP, there was already a sign that said there was an accident after Fort Road," she said. "But there was no warning to say please do not enter MCE."

She said there were flashing blue lights and radio signals appeared to have been jammed in the tunnel.

Instead, a message was being broadcast asking drivers to abandon their cars and look for the nearest exit.

A video she shared captured the broadcast of an LTA announcement saying: "This is an LTA emergency announcement. Drive out of the tunnel now via the nearest exit. If unable, turn off your engine and walk to the nearest emergency exit with a bluish-white flashing light."

Ms Ong, who exited at Fort Road, did not see the cab on fire but said there was a smell like burning rubber.

"I don't think anyone abandoned their cars," she added.

The incident caused a huge traffic jam during the evening peak hours.

Buses on SBS Transit bus service 30 were diverted before the Marina Coastal Expressway (MCE), the bus operator tweeted at 8.11pm.