SINGAPORE - A 48-year-old man has died after a flat in Jurong East caught fire in the early hours of Tuesday morning (Aug 16).
Firefighters were alerted to the fire at the ninth-storey flat at Block 236 Jurong East Street 21 at about 2.50am. They had to force their way into the smoke-filled unit to fight the blaze.
Another person who lived in the flat managed to get out before firefighters arrived, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) in a Facebook post.
Neighbours said the man and woman who lived in the flat were siblings.
Three residents in a neighbouring flat were rescued by firefighters.
One of the three, who wanted to be known only as Mr Sunil, 56, said the residents of the flat that caught fire had a habit of keeping things, such as household appliances and bags, in the common corridor.
The IT analyst added that he had raised the issue many times since 2012 with Jurong Town Council and the Housing Board, but it was never resolved.
Mr Sunil said the clutter along the corridor caught fire and blocked the entrance of his flat, trapping him and his two tenants.
He said due to the heat, the doorknobs on the front door had melted.
The trio ran to the windows in the kitchen and, using flashlights from their handphones, tried to catch the attention of residents who had evacuated downstairs.
The men waved and yelled for help. Mr Sunil said he called the police who told him they were on the way with the SCDF.
Another neighbour, student Jeremy Yeo, 22, who lives one floor down on the eighth storey, said he woke up to the strong smell of smoke.
He added that he knew one of the residents who lived in the affected unit – a woman who used to sell newspapers at a nearby bus stop.
Mr Yeo said: “We did not have much interaction but my sister and I would say hello to her whenever we passed each other.”
The firefighters wore breathing apparatus sets and used three water jets to put out the fire, and a special platform ladder was deployed to help firefighting efforts, said SCDF. The fire was fully extinguished in about five hours.
An elderly couple who lives in the unit directly below the affected flat said a woman who lives in the flat that caught fire visited their house often and gave them food.
The couple’s middle-aged son, who declined to be named, said his father was awakened by the sound of a loud explosion.
He said his father knew a unit in his block had caught fire when he looked out of his window – the fire was burning brightly in the night.
That was when he ran out to alert the neighbours.
Ms Grace Fu, who is MP for Yuhua, told reporters at the scene that utmost priority will be given to taking care of those affected by this incident.
“It is a very unfortunate situation here... we need to understand the cause of this fire, and see how we can help prevent such a serious fire from happening again,” she said.
In May, three people, including a three-year-old child, died in a fire in a Bedok North flat.
In the first four months of this year, the SCDF responded to 339 fire incidents in residential premises – a 6.9 per cent drop from the 364 in the same period in 2021.
An investigation to determine the cause of Tuesday’s fire has begun.