Man who hoarded items found dead after fire breaks out in Tampines flat

The Singapore Civil Defence Force and police were alerted to the fire at Block 157 Tampines Street 12 at 9.25pm on May 27, 2018.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force and police were alerted to the fire at Block 157 Tampines Street 12 at 9.25pm on May 27, 2018.PHOTOS: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS, SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS READER

SINGAPORE - A 59-year-old man died after a fire broke out in his 11th storey flat in Tampines on Sunday night (May 27).

The Straits Times understands that Mr Sim Buay Piak lived alone, and he was known to have hoarded numerous items in his three-room Housing Board flat for several years.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and police said that they were alerted to a fire at Block 157 Tampines Street 12 at 9.25pm.

SCDF firefighters used a water jet to extinguish the fire.

A 59-year-old man was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene, police said.

ST understands that officers gained entry into the unit by breaking in through the front door.

Neighbours told Chinese-language newspaper Lianhe Wanbao that Mr Sim liked to collect paper and other old items, such as a bed frame, an electric fan and a refrigerator without a door.

His hoarding habit meant that there was only a narrow space left in his living room to walk, they added.

In the past four years, neighbours have also complained to the town council that items were blocking the path on the common corridor.

However, it is unclear if Sunday's fire was related to the items Mr Sim kept in his home.

Mr Sim's next-door neighbour, a 55-year-old private hire driver, said that he was having dinner with his family when they noticed a strong burning smell.

He rushed out of his flat and found the corridor shrouded in smoke.

"I was shocked, as my 11-month-old son was with me. My wife and I quickly carried our son and went to the ground floor," he told Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News.

Shin Min reported that Mr Sim's body was found in the toilet, and the fire was believed to have started in the living room.

A total of 155 residents were evacuated.

On Monday, workers from the town council were seen cleaning the flat, taking with them at least two large garbage bins of items at about 10.30am.

There was still a strong smell of smoke in the area, and the ceiling lining the corridor was covered with soot, reported Wanbao.

Police investigations are ongoing.