Fire that killed man caused by PMD which overheated during charging: Coroner's inquiry

A fire in a Bukit Batok flat in 2019 that led to the death of its home owner was caused by a personal mobility device that overheated as it was being charged.
A fire in a Bukit Batok flat in 2019 that led to the death of its home owner was caused by a personal mobility device that overheated as it was being charged.PHOTO: MURALI PILLAI/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A fire in a Bukit Batok flat last year that led to the death of its homeowner was caused by a personal mobility device (PMD) that overheated as it was being charged, the coroner's court heard on Friday (Oct 23).

The Straits Times had earlier reported that private hire driver Goh Keng Soon, 40, was unconscious when he was pulled out of his flat on July 18 last year. He died two days later.

He is possibly the first person known to have died in a fire linked to a PMD.

At an inquiry on his death, investigation officer Muhammad Eszham Sabtu said Mr Goh, who suffered burns, died of multiple organ failure following a heart attack. He also had coronary artery disease.

The officer told State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam that three PMDs were found in the living room but only one was being charged at the time.

He also said that when the fire broke out, Mr Goh tried to save his two dogs, but owing to the heat and smoke, he retreated to a toilet, where he collapsed.

Inspector Eszham added that even though it was unclear if Mr Goh had saved his pets, both dogs survived the blaze.

Major Huang Weikang from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told the state coroner that three people were injured following the fire, but only Mr Goh died.

The two other were his wife and a neighbour.

Major Huang said he believed the fire was accidental and that the living room furniture fuelled the flames.

He also said the path to safety for Mr Goh and his family might have been blocked as the the burning PMD and sofa were near the front door.

As a safety precaution, he told the court that people should use only PMDs approved by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), adding : "Don't charge them overnight or (charge them) unattended."

Singapore had a record 102 fires involving PMDs last year, almost double that of the previous year.

The SCDF had reportedly said all the fires involved non-UL2272 certified devices with some modification, mainly to the battery.

The UL2272 requirement was developed by an independent United States certification company. It specifies a set of safety requirements covering the electrical drive train system, including the battery system, other circuitry and electrical components, of motorised PMDs.

All PMDs in Singapore must now be UL2272-certified.

On Friday, the court heard that Mr Goh's PMD was damaged in the blaze. As a result, it could not be ascertained if its battery management system was UL2272-certified.

State Coroner Kamala will give her findings at a later date.