Fire at Newton Food Centre causes stall closures, leads to 12-hour power outage

While the fire may have been put out, the subsequent power disruption meant that stalls were closed for the day.
While the fire may have been put out, the subsequent power disruption meant that stalls were closed for the day.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Newton Food Centre is normally packed with customers on weekend nights craving a taste of wok-fried dishes and flame-barbequed seafood.

On Saturday (March 16), however, another kind of fire kept customers away - one that occurred in the centre's electrical switch room and caused a power outage lasting nearly 12 hours in the food centre.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the fire around 9.45am.

It was extinguished by SCDF officers using two compressed air foam backpacks and a fire extinguisher.

There were no reported injuries, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

While the fire may have been put out, the subsequent power disruption meant that stalls were closed for the day.

Mr Gary Haris, who visited the hawker centre around 6.30pm, told The Straits Times that signs had been put up stating that there had been a power disruption.

Hawkers were sitting outside their stalls, and about 50 to 80 people were milling around the area looking disappointed, he said.

The 43-year-old senior business development manager also said that he saw staff cleaning soot at the hawker centre's bin centre, and charred marks on the wall.

When ST visited the hawker centre around 7.20pm, most of the stalls were shuttered, with only the staff of one stall present, who were cleaning up the area and declined to speak to media.

Workers could be seen carrying out repair works, while customers continued to arrive and leave disappointed.

One such customer, who only wanted to be known as Ms YY Yau, said: "This is the first time in Singapore that the whole hawker centre is closed without notice. I saw a lot of very disappointed tourists, (and) the hawkers very poor thing too."

She and her boyfriend decided to have dinner near their home instead.

Four tourists from Canada also turned up at the hawker centre, only to leave shortly afterwards.

"Oh, it's such a huge disappointment," said one.

A spokesman from electricity and gas supplier SP Group told ST that it was alerted to the electricity supply disruption around 10am.

However, the disruption was traced to the hawker centre's electrical equipment.

 
 

"We confirm that SP Group's network is in order," said the spokesman.

"Notwithstanding, our officers were immediately activated to the site and have offered assistance to the National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages Newton Food Centre."

An NEA spokesman confirmed that the fire had occurred and said that, although it was extinguished shortly afterwards, it caused damage to electrical boards, causing power supply to the food centre to be interrupted.

The spokesman said that the agency has been working with its facilities management contractor since afternoon to supply power to the 83 stalls at the centre, and that power was restored progressively from 9pm.

Stallholders will be informed by the Hawkers' Association when the power is fully restored.

The spokesman added that in view of the power disruption, stallholders decided not to operate their business on Saturday night, and that NEA will be looking into providing some concessions to the stallholders whose businesses are affected.