Fire leads to 12-hour power outage at Newton Food Centre

The fire at Newton Food Centre's electrical switch room yesterday morning, and the subsequent power disruption, meant stalls had to close for the day. There were no reported injuries and the cause is being investigated.
The fire at Newton Food Centre's electrical switch room yesterday morning, and the subsequent power disruption, meant stalls had to close for the day. There were no reported injuries and the cause is being investigated.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

A fire in Newton Food Centre's electrical switch room yesterday caused a power outage lasting nearly 12 hours, shuttering stalls and disappointing customers.

Singapore Civil Defence Force officers extinguished the blaze using two compressed air foam backpacks and a fire extinguisher after being alerted at about 9.45am. There were no reported injuries and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The subsequent power disruption meant stalls were closed for the day.

Mr Gary Haris, who visited the centre at around 6.30pm, told The Sunday Times that hawkers were sitting outside their stalls while about 50 to 80 people were milling around, looking dismayed. The 43-year-old senior business development manager said he saw charred marks on the wall and staff cleaning soot at the hawker centre's bin centre.

When The Sunday Times visited the centre at about 7.20pm, workers were seen carrying out repairs while customers continued to arrive, only to leave soon after.

A customer who wanted to be known only as Ms Y.Y. 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."

Four tourists from Canada were among those who turned up, only to leave shortly after. "Oh, it's such a huge disappointment," said one.

A spokesman for electricity and gas supplier SP Group said that it was alerted to the electricity supply disruption at about 10am.

The disruption was traced to the centre's electrical equipment and SP Group's networks were confirmed to be in order. "Notwithstanding, our officers... have offered assistance to the National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages Newton Food Centre," said the spokesman.

An NEA spokesman said the fire damaged electrical boards and interrupted the power supply. He added that the agency had been working since yesterday afternoon and power to the 83 stalls was being restored progressively.

The spokesman said stallholders opted not to operate last night while the NEA will look into providing some concessions to those affected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 17, 2019, with the headline 'Fire leads to 12-hour power outage at Newton Food Centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe