Duo who put out blaze hailed as heroes

Mr Syed Abdillah Alhabshee
Mr Syed Abdillah Alhabshee

A taxi had exploded into angry flames in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway tunnel on Tuesday evening, but that did not stop two friends from helping to put out the fire.

Mr Mohamad Fuad Abdul Aziz and Mr Syed Abdillah Alhabshee have been hailed as heroes after their bravery was highlighted on social media.

"We saw thick smoke and heard an explosion, and then saw a red taxi that was on fire," Mr Syed Abdillah, 37, told The Straits Times yesterday.

Mr Fuad, 36, said: "We didn't think of the danger - only for the safety of our fellow motorists."

An experienced emergency responder who works as a training manager for Medlink Services, Mr Fuad said their vehicle was in the tunnel at around 6.50pm when they heard an explosion.

As the taxi was straddling the left and middle lanes, the men stopped the ambulance they were in and turned on the hazard lights.

The ambulance and another vehicle closed the affected lanes, said Mr Syed Abdillah, who owns First Medic Training and Ambulance Services.

They walked forward for about 50m and saw the front portion of a Trans-Cab taxi engulfed in flames.

SCENES OF PANIC

Others on the scene were screaming and shouting to get out of the way. They were worried the taxi would explode.

MR SYED ABDILLAH ALHABSHEE, on putting out the fire in the tunnel.

A van that was ferrying about six to seven Gurkha police officers had also stopped to help.

Together with two of the officers, Mr Fuad took a fire extinguisher from the tunnel and attempted to douse the flames, but was unsuccessful as the tunnel was too windy. Mr Fuad and Mr Syed Abdillah then grabbed a hose reel and put out the blaze in about 10 minutes.

They were assisted by the Gurkhas and another motorist, who helped to lay out the hose.

"Others on the scene were screaming and shouting to get out of the way. They were worried the taxi would explode," said Mr Syed Abdillah.

There was a second explosion as the duo were fighting the fire, which Mr Fuad said was due to the taxi's tyres exploding from the heat.

The two men put out the fire before the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived. They left the tunnel at around 7.30pm.

"As we are used to emergency situations, lending a helping hand was almost second nature to us," said Mr Fuad. "We are just glad there were no casualties."

SCDF said the fire involved the taxi's engine compartment. The driver escaped unhurt.

The incident, which caused a huge traffic jam during the evening peak hours, also saw motorists being asked to leave their vehicles for the nearest exit.

• Additional reporting by Shayna Toh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Duo who put out blaze hailed as heroes'. Print Edition | Subscribe