Hundreds of workers and shoppers evacuate Ngee Ann City after fire in stairwell

Ngee Ann City after the evacuation on Sept 26, 2018.
Ngee Ann City after the evacuation on Sept 26, 2018.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN
Fire engines outside Tower B of Ngee Ann City, where the Singapore Civil Defence Force said it responded at 5.08pm to a fire alarm call on Sept 26, 2018.
Fire engines outside Tower B of Ngee Ann City, where the Singapore Civil Defence Force said it responded at 5.08pm to a fire alarm call on Sept 26, 2018.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers examining a ventilation shaft in the stairwell of Tower B of Ngee Ann City. SCDF said that it extinguished a pile of smouldering trash in the shaft.
Police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers examining a ventilation shaft in the stairwell of Tower B of Ngee Ann City. SCDF said that it extinguished a pile of smouldering trash in the shaft.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR
Firefighters examining a ventilation shaft in the stairwell of Tower B of Ngee Ann City. SCDF said that it extinguished a pile of smouldering trash in the shaft.
Firefighters examining a ventilation shaft in the stairwell of Tower B of Ngee Ann City. SCDF said that it extinguished a pile of smouldering trash in the shaft.PHOTOS: TWITTER/SCDF
Hundreds were told to evacuate Ngee Ann City after a fire broke out at about 5pm on Sept 26, 2018. No injuries have been reported.
Hundreds were told to evacuate Ngee Ann City after a fire broke out at about 5pm on Sept 26, 2018. No injuries have been reported.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN
The linkway to Ngee Ann City from Takashimaya was closed on Sept 26, 2018. A security guard informed members of the public that Takashimaya had been closed due to a fire emergency.
The linkway to Ngee Ann City from Takashimaya was closed on Sept 26, 2018. A security guard informed members of the public that Takashimaya had been closed due to a fire emergency.ST PHOTO: TOH TING WEI

SINGAPORE - Hundreds of workers and shoppers were evacuated from Ngee Ann City after a fire started in the Orchard Road building on Wednesday (Sept 26).

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said that it responded at 5.08pm to a fire alarm call at Tower B of Ngee Ann City.

SCDF firefighters used a hose reel to extinguish a pile of smouldering trash in a ventilation shaft in a level three Tower B stairwell.

The occupants in Tower B were evacuated as a precaution and there were no reported injuries.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

When The Straits Times reached the scene about 6.30pm, hundreds of people were milling outside Ngee Ann City. Several police officers were also spotted as well as a couple of fire engines.

The linkway between the mall and Takashimaya was also closed. A security guard told members of the public that Takashimaya was closed due to a “fire emergency”.

A staff member who worked on the 15th storey of the building told ST that he saw a lot of smoke, but did not see any fire.

Ms G.H. Chua, an office worker, said the alarm went off at around 5pm. Shortly afterwards, security guards told her colleagues to evacuate the building.

Ms Chua said that as she and her colleagues left their 13th-storey office via the stairwell, they could smell smoke. However, she could not tell if there was a fire.

Ms Chua said that this was the first time such an incident had occurred in about a decade. Despite this, she said those who evacuated with her were quite calm as they had done fire drills before.

“We know what to do because we have annual fire drills,” she said.

Mr Clinton Lai, 26, who works in business development in a co-sharing office on the 23rd floor of Tower B, said the fire alarm rang for 30 minutes from about 5pm, but he and his colleagues initially thought it was a false alarm.

“But at 5.30pm, the alarm became louder and sharper, and someone from our operations side asked us to quickly go down. We came down from the 23rd floor, it was a long walk,” he said.

“When we reached the second and third floor, it was all smoke, like from a drama series.”

A spokesman for Ngee Ann City told ST that smoke was discovered at around 5pm.

“We made the decision to evacuate the building as soon as we were certain that the smoke was not contained. This was to ensure that the safety and well being of all our customers, tenants and staff are protected,” the spokesman said.

“Their safety is our top concern and priority.”

He added that Ngee Ann City is currently investigating the cause of the smoke, and will work closely with SCDF and other relevant authorities to ensure that such incidents are “reduced as much as possible”.