A fire swept through two double-storey factory units at Toa Payoh Industrial Park early yesterday.
Jetwind Printing and Packaging was left gutted by the blaze, while California Laundry, which occupies a neighbouring shophouse, suffered about 25 per cent damage.
No one was injured.
The fire started at 2.25am at the Block 11 units. The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) sent two fire engines, three red rhinos, eight support vehicles and an ambulance.
Jetwind's director, Mr Tan Kim Tjio, 69, was told the bad news by his son at 5am and estimates the total cost of damage to his print production factory, set up in 1993, to be about $4 million.
Machinery, office equipment and materials were destroyed.
"The fire affected my business very badly," said Mr Tan in Mandarin. "My spirits are very low now."
Mr Tan runs Jetwind along with his three sons. The company prints paper bags and boxes.
The SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire, which took 60 firefighters around 90 minutes to contain. It was eventually extinguished at 6.30am.
The SCDF carried out damping-down operations for another four hours.
When The Straits Times visited the site at 8am, there was at least one small fire burning on the second floor of one of the shophouses. The roof of Jetwind had collapsed.
Many California Laundry employees learnt about the blaze only when they arrived for work at 9am yesterday and found the area cordoned off.
"I came to work and saw all my friends standing outside. We were very shocked to see the SCDF and the smoke," said Madam Saroja Devi, 68, who packs the clean linen prior to delivery.
"We haven't heard anything about what's going to happen to us or when we can go back to work."
The firm provides laundry services for hotels such as Mandarin Oriental and Pan Pacific Singapore.
White smoke continued to sweep through the industrial estate as other unit owners arrived to open up.
Mr Gervin Neo, who runs Magnum Precision Industries, an engineering firm at Block 7, said: "When I heard there was a fire at Toa Payoh Industrial Park, my heart jumped. Luckily it didn't spread."
Retired driver Lee Siew Peng, 76, who lives opposite the factory, said: "I woke up at 4am and heard a high-pitched siren or machine noise, and went outside to the corridor to see what was happening.
"Other neighbours had gone outside too. We stood at the corridor and watched until about 6am, when the fire died down.
"It was all white smoke, blowing very high from the factory."