SINGAPORE - Mr Aung Myo Thant's day at work was upended after he received a call from his wife that the Housing Board flat they were living in caught fire.
"I immediately came home," said the 51-year-old electrical engineer.
The blaze, which started from a fire in the unit's storeroom, led to more than 60 residents in the block being evacuated on Wednesday afternoon (Oct 20).
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the fire at Block 470 Choa Chu Kang Avenue 3 at about 2.45pm that day.
Firemen used a water jet to extinguish the blaze.
The SCDF said four people in the flat had evacuated before its officers arrived.
One person had minor injuries but refused to be taken to the hospital, it added. The SCDF did not name the person.
Mr Aung Myo Thant's wife, Madam Khin Myo Thant, told The Straits Times that she had suffered minor burns on her hand during the incident.
She was in the flat with their three children when the fire occurred.
The family is from Myanmar and had rented the flat, which is on the seventh floor.
Madam Khin Myo Thant, 43, was the first to spot the flames in the storeroom, where textbooks and clothing were among the items stored.
She also noticed her youngest son, aged five, holding a gas lighter, said Mr Aung Myo Thant.
The housewife tried to extinguish the fire with cold water but failed. She then sought help from her neighbours as the flames grew bigger.
One of them, Mr Syaidi, 25, called the SCDF. He and his 19-year-old sister Sabrina managed to get Madam Khin Myo Thant and her children out of the flat.
The two siblings, who declined to give their full names, then got their mother and their pets - two cats and a bird - out of their flat before telling another neighbour to evacuate.
"Suddenly, I heard an explosion," said Ms Sabrina, adding that it occurred about 10 to 15 minutes after they had been alerted to the fire.
Her family then gathered at the lift lobby on the opposite end of the corridor.
SCDF and police officers later evacuated residents on the fifth to the ninth floors of the block.
Ms Sabrina said the evacuation was organised, with the residents directed into groups according to which floor they lived on after reaching the foot of the block.
They were allowed to return back to their homes after about an hour.
When ST visited the scene on Thursday, Mr Aung Myo Thant's flat was covered in soot, and some floor tiles were broken.
The Choa Chu Kang Town Council has arranged for his family to stay temporarily at the residential committee centre in a nearby block.
The cause of the fire is being investigated.