150 evacuated after rubbish bin in Sim Lim Square catches fire

The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.
The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.
The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY
The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.
The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries.ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY

SINGAPORE - More than a hundred people were evacuated from Sim Lim Square on Monday (June 17) after the contents of a rubbish bin on the fifth floor caught fire and set off the building's sprinkler system.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to the incident at 12pm, a spokesman said.

"About 150 people were evacuated from the premises by the in-house Company Emergency Response Team (CERT) prior to SCDF's arrival," the spokesman said.

The fire was extinguished using a hose reel and there were no reported injuries, he added.

The SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.

Undertaker Loh Yan Long, 33, was walking by the building during his lunch hour when the incident occurred.

"I observed more than a hundred tenants and shoppers exiting the building. There was no visible smoke anywhere outside, as the fire had occurred inside. The SCDF was also present by the time I was returning from my lunch," Mr Loh said.

Videos shared with The Straits Times showed smoke in the corridors of Sim Lim Square.

A video sent to citizen journalism website Stomp also showed heavy smoke in the corridors inside the building before cutting to a large crowd waiting outside Sim Lim Square.

When ST reached the building at around 4.30pm, tenants of the two stores closest to the fire were cleaning up.

A salesperson of an electronic store, who wanted to be known only as Patrick, said that he had seen a large cloud of smoke coming from the doorway towards the fire service lifts at about 11:30am.

An elderly cleaner who was nearby went to investigate, but emerged from the area moments later, saying he was unable to proceed as the smoke was choking him.

Almost immediately after, the smoke triggered the building’s fire alarm.

Patrick said he returned to find the floor of the shop drenched in water.

Building manager Jeffrey Zhou clarified with ST that the water came from the building’s water sprinklers. 

“On a usual day we might make $1000-2000, but the whole of today was spent dealing with the situation and clearing up the mess,” Patrick said.

He was also worried that the electronic products in his store might have sustained water damage.

Cloud, 37, the accounts personnel of a neighbouring store, who also gave just one name, said that the evacuation lasted about four hours, from 11am to 3pm. 

Additional reporting by Marcia Lee