Smoke was so thick in the corridor that the two firefighters could barely see past their masks.
They were moving gingerly across the fourth storey of a burning industrial building to assess the fire and see if anyone was trapped. They stopped at one of the doors amid the escalating heat.
Suddenly, they heard explosions beyond the door. Firefighter Muhammad Aliff Amirrudin Abdul Razak, 21, who was there with his section commander, said the senior officer told him to retreat.
"There were explosions all around us as we ran through the darkness to the stairs," said Corporal Aliff, a Singapore Civil Defence Force national serviceman.
Cpl Aliff, who enlisted in 2015, has been fighting fires since then. He was recalling the blaze that destroyed the CK Building in Tampines Street 92 on Aug 17 last year.
Weighed down by about 20kg of firefighting and personal safety equipment, the two men dashed down the stairs even as mini explosions sounded around them.
DASHING THROUGH DARKNESS TO SAFETY
There were explosions all around us as we ran through the darkness to the stairs.
CPL MUHAMMAD ALIFF AMIRRUDIN ABDUL RAZAK, a Singapore Civil Defence Force national serviceman, on how he and his team barely escaped the fire that razed the CK Building in Tampines last year.
Said Cpl Aliff: "Because of the fire and smoke, the staircase landings were no longer brightly lit.
"Together with my team, we shuffled our way down, (reminding) one another to hold on to the railing and ensure everyone's safety as we retreated from the dark staircase landing."
The moment the team reached the staging area outside, Cpl Aliff saw the fourth-storey windows explode outwards, showering the premises below with glass shards.
"At that point, I knew we had made the right decision at the right time to retreat," he said.
The fire, which broke out at about 1.30pm, raged on for 16 hours because the premises contained highly flammable goods such as aerosol cans.
After 12 hours of working under hot and smoky conditions, Cpl Aliff's team was relieved.
When he reached home at 9am the day after, the excitement had worn off and fatigue had set in.
He said: "I slept for more than a day. When my parents asked me about it, I told them from start to end (what had happened). They were surprised that I could last for more than 12 hours."
Zaihan Mohamed Yusof