SINGAPORE - A 38-year-old waitress was wiping down the tables, preparing for her seafood restaurant's closing at 3.20am on Tuesday, when she heard a commotion outside and someone shouting "Fire! Fire!"
When she dashed out of her workplace - a two-storey shophouse at Syed Alwi Road - she saw thick plumes of black smoke coming out of her neighbour's rooftop, two units down. It belonged to a karaoke lounge called Happy Villa.
"Everyone had rushed out of to see what was happening," said the waitress, who gave her name only as Ms Liu. About 10 people including cleaning ladies, beer promoters and merrymakers, had also evacuated from the burning site, she added.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said they were alerted to the fire at 3.40am. When they arrived, they located the fire on the second floor.
Firemen put out the flames with three water jets. No one was injured.
Meanwhile, the affected unit's first floor occupants - Phoenix Solar Pte Ltd - started clearing out its computers and servers at about 8am.
The company, which installs solar panels, stretches across the first floors of three shophouse units. Two of them had been damaged by the fire.
Phoenix Solar's commercial director, Ms Chee Yeen Yee, said she expects to move back into her office within a month.
Meanwhile, the 30-employee outfit will work from home, Ms Chee's place and the single unit that has been given the okay to continue operations.
"The fire has given us some excitement. We have a back up plan. Now we can test if it works," she said.