63-year-old woman dead, 3-year-old taken to hospital after fire at Punggol Central flat

Madam Maimon Sharif, the 63-year-old who died in the fire. PHOTO: HAFIZAL MOHAMAD TAHIR
The fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit at Block 163B Punggol Central. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG
The fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit at Block 163B Punggol Central. ST PHOTO: MATTHIAS CHONG

SINGAPORE - Without fail, Madam Maimon Sharif would make lunch every day for her three grandchildren.

But this act of love eventually cost the 63-year-old housewife her life on Monday (Oct 15), after a fire broke out in her kitchen and destroyed it.

Paramedics pronounced Madam Maimon Sharif dead at the scene, while her 3-year-old granddaughter was rescued from one of the bedrooms in the four-room flat in Punggol Central.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said on Monday firefighters wearing breathing apparatus had to make a forced entry into the smoke-filled fourth floor flat in of Block 163B at 12.35pm.

The SCDF said the fire involved contents in the kitchen and was extinguished with one water jet.

The child was conscious and admitted to the KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
The cause of fire is under investigation.

When The Straits Times arrived at the scene at about 5pm, a worker from the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council was cleaning the common corridor, which was blackened with soot and covered in puddles of water.

Speaking to ST, Madam Maimon's second of three sons, Mr Hafizal Mohamad Tahir, said he was told by SCDF officers that his daughter was found playing on a bed when the fire broke out. The bedroom door was closed at the time, he added.

"That pretty much saved her life," said the 36-year-old IT officer, who lived in the flat with his mother, wife and daughter.

Mr Hafizal Mohamad Tahir, second son of the deceased, believes that his mother, Madam Maimon Sharif, was cooking lunch for her grandchildren when the fire occurred. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

He said the house was gutted from the kitchen hallway to the bedroom. His daughter suffered minimal smoke inhalation.

"It could be that my mother was stubborn enough to want to put out the fire on her own...even though we'd told her many times before that if there's a big fire, to just get out of the house," said Mr Hafizal, becoming visibly emotional.

Housewife Angela Tay, 52, who lives on the fifth floor, said she was in the shower when she smelt smoke and heard the fire brigade on the ground floor at 12.45pm.

When she opened her front door and saw smoke, she decided to evacuate her flat with her husband. "The smoke was very heavy, it was quite suffocating around the fourth floor," she added.

Madam Tay told ST she also saw firefighters carrying a girl downstairs.

Mr Hafizal said his 64-year-old father had died only a month ago.

"I didn't expect her to go away like this. Everything was fine when I left for work," he said.
"The weird part is on Sunday, she wanted to see my grandmother, her mother. They spent the whole day together. I think she was happy."

Additional reporting by Toh Ting Wei

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