Jurong East flat fire: SCDF to assess if more measures needed to tackle fires involving clutter

The blaze on Aug 16 at Block 236 Jurong East Street 21 had killed a 48-year-old man. PHOTOS: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE

SINGAPORE - An assessment is under way to see if more measures are required for fires involving clutter in homes, after the incident last week when flames reignited in a ninth-storey flat in Jurong East, a day after a blaze there killed a man.

The assessment is part of the post-fire incident review, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a statement on Monday (Aug 22), and any new measures would have to take into account the need to keep the scene as intact as possible for investigation.

"Rekindled fires are uncommon. Notwithstanding this, the firefighting and damping down operation for this incident was very challenging as the entire unit contained a large volume of debris that were closely packed together from wall to wall," said an SCDF spokesman.

"The safety of residents is of paramount importance for SCDF. As part of the post-fire incident review, SCDF will assess if additional measures are needed for similar fire incidents in the future while preserving the scene as intact as possible for fire investigation."

A 48-year-old man died in the fire in the flat at Block 236 Jurong East Street 21 last Tuesday morning.

SCDF firefighters had to force their way into the smoke-filled unit to fight the blaze and it was fully extinguished in about five hours.

It was alerted to the second fire at about 5am last Wednesday and a fire in the master bedroom was extinguished using a water jet. There were no reported injuries from the second fire, which SCDF said was likely due to deep-seated embers.

A neighbour said the residents of the flat that caught fire had a habit of keeping items such as household appliances and bags in the common corridor.

The SCDF spokesman said on Monday: "Following the fire incident on Aug 16, 2022, SCDF conducted an extensive damping down operation within the unit for about eight hours after the fire was extinguished. A damping down operation of this duration was assessed to be necessary while balancing the need to preserve the scene for fire investigation.

"Throughout the damping down, two thermal-imaging cameras were used to search for heat spots and guide the firefighters to target the water jets at the affected areas. This strategy was necessary to avoid causing additional damage due to the excessive use of water which would also affect fire investigation...

"SCDF firefighters and fire investigators continued to work together and around 5pm, the thermal-imaging cameras showed that the temperature of the debris had reached normal ambient temperature levels and no heat spots were detected.

"The firefighters then returned to their respective units to replenish and prepare themselves for response to other emergencies."

Town council workers removing debris from the unit at Block 236 Jurong East on Aug 17, 2022. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

The fire investigators left at around 8pm that evening, intending to resume their work the following morning.

The SCDF spokesman said that when they left the unit, there was no sign of smoke or fire.

"The cause of the (second) fire was likely due to deep-seated embers that were not detected by the thermal-imaging cameras," said the spokesman.

SCDF has since worked closely with the town council on the removal of debris from the unit and investigations are ongoing.

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