Neighbours try to help man trapped in burning flat

Residents trying to get the key to help free the trapped man. A video online also showed one throwing buckets of water into the unit.
Residents trying to get the key to help free the trapped man. A video online also showed one throwing buckets of water into the unit.PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

A man was trapped in his burning flat as he could not reach his keys. Fortunately, around 10 neighbours came to his rescue.

The blaze broke out in the living room of a flat in Block 805, King George's Avenue, on Wednesday at about 1.20pm, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said.

It was doused using compressed air foam and a water jet.

SCDF said emergency personnel rescued a man in his 20s who suffered burn injuries. He was taken to Singapore General Hospital.

A video uploaded to Facebook on Wednesday showed neighbours throwing buckets of water into the flat before SCDF firefighters arrived.

A man who had burn marks on his face was peering out from the locked door grille, calling for help.

"Table, the table, the key, the black colour one," he shouted in desperation, repeating "key, help!" a few times. "Please open my door," he pleaded.

A group of neighbours gathered in the corridor, trying to reach the key through a bedroom window. Their movements were impeded by bicycles and electric bikes parked there. One was seen throwing water into the flat using a bucket. Another neighbour also passed the man a wet towel so he could breathe easier in the thick smoke.

It is understood that SCDF firefighters removed the window panes and climbed into the bedroom to retrieve the keys, which they used to unlock the grille.

The man, surnamed Lee, lives with his father in the ninth-floor unit, Lianhe Wanbao reported.

The elder Mr Lee was in Johor Baru when he got a call informing him that his home was on fire. He told the Chinese evening daily that his son had burns on his forehead and back, but is in stable condition.

SCDF dispatched a fire engine, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes, an ambulance and a support vehicle.

At least three fires were reported in HDB blocks last month.

A Samsung washing machine caught fire in a Bukit Panjang flat on Nov 9. A day earlier, rubbish thrown at a lift landing caught fire at a Lengkok Bahru block. Another fire was reported in Toa Payoh Central on Nov 6.

In October, a fire swept through a wet market and two coffee shops in Jurong West, due to arson.

A total of 2,898 fires occurred in homes last year, according to SCDF figures. They made up about 63 per cent of fires SCDF responded to.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2016, with the headline 'Neighbours try to help man trapped in burning flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe