SINGAPORE - Three town council cleaners at work at a block in Yishun last Saturday (Nov 14) wasted no time in responding when they heard cries for help.
Mr Easin Mohammad, 27, Mr Biswas Md Wasim, 41, and their supervisor, Mr Hossan Mohammad Saddam, 30, immediately rushed up to a flat on the fourth storey which was engulfed in flames.
Using a sledge hammer Mr Saddam grabbed on the way up, the trio forced open the metal gate of the two-room flat occupied by Mr Ismail Sanif, 53, and his wife.
“I did not think about whether I would be injured in the process. The only thing on my mind was that I should try to save their lives,” said Mr Saddam.
The three of them, all Bangladeshis, were joined shortly by four Grab riders who had heard about the fire from a chat group they were part of.
With the help of a neighbour, the Grab riders managed to break down the wooden door of the flat.
They were just in time to rescue Mr Ismail's wife, who was hiding from the flames in a corner of her flat, said Nee Soon Town Council chairman Derrick Goh on Facebook on Sunday.
Mr Ismail, who was halfway through a shower, had climbed onto the ledge outside his toilet to escape the fire even though he was not fully dressed.
Battling the "thick smoke that blinded and choked them", the Grab riders and the neighbours took turns to help put out the fire, said Mr Goh.
About 40 residents evacuated themselves from the block before the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted at 9.45am to the fire.
By then, the fire in the kitchen was already under control but one still raged through the bedroom, said one of the Grab riders, Mr Omar Syarif, 24.
“If we did not do anything, the whole flat may have burned down with two lives on the line,” he added.
A Nee Soon Town Council spokesman confirmed on Thursday that Mr Ismail's wife was taken to the Singapore General Hospital with burn injuries, while Mr Ismail was assessed for smoke inhalation but declined to be taken to hospital.
Commending Mr Ismail's neighbours, the town council cleaners and Grab riders for their part in the rescue, Mr Goh said he was touched by the strong community spirit in his ward, Nee Soon Link.
He added that Nee Soon grassroots leaders are assisting the couple to make insurance claims and obtain emergency funds to rebuild their home.
Preliminary investigations indicated that the fire was caused by an electric bicycle left to charge.