When a fire broke out in a second-floor Housing Board flat in Ang Mo Kio yesterday morning, its four residents were left with only one way out - through the kitchen window.
Thick flames had engulfed most of the one-room rental flat in Block 115, Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4 by then, and two residents leapt to the ground.
The other two, Mr Gan Hwee Sun, 72, and Ms Teo Siew Choo, 50, stood precariously on the window ledge until they were helped to the ground by Bangladeshi cleaners, using a ladder.
Mr Gan and Ms Teo, both musicians in a Chinese funeral procession band, shared the flat with Ms Teo's friend, Mr Choon Siew Weng, 56, and her younger brother, 37.
Mr Gan emerged unharmed, while the other three were taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. The younger brother, who was not named, was warded in the high dependency unit for fall injuries, a hospital spokesman said. The other two suffered burns.
A 70-year-old resident upstairs who suffered from smoke inhalation was also warded.
Alerted to the incident just after 8am, firefighters forced their way into the unit and put out the blaze within 15 minutes.
When The Straits Times visited Ms Teo in hospital, she was visibly shaken after hearing that one of her two pet dogs had died in the fire. The other dog escaped unscathed when firefighters entered the flat.
Mr Gan said he was having a shower when Ms Teo banged on the door screaming "Fire". He only had time to put on his boxer shorts before going through the kitchen window, but was too scared to take another step.
"I didn't know what was happening. I was holding on to the bamboo pole holder until the cleaners came."