Grandma dies in fire, toddler rescued

Left: A worker cleaning the blackened walls of the common corridor outside the fourth-floor flat in Block 163B, Punggol Central, that caught fire yesterday. Above: Madam Maimon Sharif, who died in the blaze, was believed to be making lunch for her gr
Madam Maimon Sharif, who died in the blaze, was believed to be making lunch for her grandchildren when the fire broke out in the kitchen.PHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, COURTESY OF HAFIZAL MOHAMAD TAHIR
Left: A worker cleaning the blackened walls of the common corridor outside the fourth-floor flat in Block 163B, Punggol Central, that caught fire yesterday. Above: Madam Maimon Sharif, who died in the blaze, was believed to be making lunch for her gr
MR HAFIZAL MOHAMAD TAHIRPHOTOS: GAVIN FOO, COURTESY OF HAFIZAL MOHAMAD TAHIR

Without fail, Madam Maimon Sharif would make lunch every day for her three grandchildren.

But this act of love could have cost the 63-year-old housewife her life yesterday, after a fire broke out in her kitchen and destroyed it.

Paramedics pronounced her dead at the scene, while her three-year-old granddaughter was rescued from one of the bedrooms in the four-room Punggol Central flat. They were the only two at home then.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) yesterday said firefighters wearing breathing apparatus had to force entry into the smoke-filled fourth-floor flat in Block 163B at around 12.35pm.

SCDF said the fire "involved contents in the kitchen" and was extinguished with one water jet.

The child was conscious and admitted to KK Women's and Children's Hospital. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

When The Straits Times arrived at the scene at about 5 pm, a worker from Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council was cleaning the common corridor, which was blackened with soot.

 Madam Maimon Sharif, who died in the blaze, was believed to be making lunch for her gr
A worker cleaning the blackened walls of the common corridor outside the fourth-floor flat in Block 163B, Punggol Central, that caught fire yesterday.

Speaking to ST, Madam Maimon's second of three sons, Mr Hafizal Mohamad Tahir, said he was told by SCDF officers that his daughter was found playing on a bed when firefighters entered the flat. The bedroom door was closed at the time, he added.

"That pretty much saved her life," said the 36-year-old IT officer, who lived in the flat with his late mother, wife and daughter.

He said the house was gutted from the kitchen hallway to the bedroom. His daughter suffered minimal smoke inhalation.

"It could be that my mother was stubborn enough to want to put out the fire on her own... even though we'd told her many times before that if there's a big fire, to just get out of the house," said Mr Hafizal, becoming visibly emotional.

Housewife Angela Tay, 52, who lives on the fifth floor, said she was in the shower when she smelt smoke and heard the fire brigade at 12.45pm. When she opened her front door and saw smoke, she decided to evacuate her flat with her husband. "The smoke was very heavy, it was quite suffocating around the fourth floor," she added.

Madam Tay said she also saw firefighters carrying a girl downstairs.

Mr Hafizal said his 64-year-old father had died only a month ago.

"I didn't expect her to go like this. Everything was fine when I left for work," he said.

DID SHE TRY TO PUT OUT FIRE?

It could be that my mother was stubborn enough to want to put out the fire on her own... even though we'd told her many times before that if there's a big fire, to just get out of the house.

MR HAFIZAL MOHAMAD TAHIR, on this mother, Madam Maimon Sharif, who died in yesterday's fire.

"The weird part is on Sunday, she wanted to see my grandmother, her mother. They spent the whole day together. I think she was happy."

•Additional reporting by Toh Ting Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2018, with the headline 'Grandma dies in fire, toddler rescued'. Print Edition | Subscribe