Electric bike fire at Boon Lay void deck put out by residents; second blaze in block in two weeks

The fire was put out by residents who threw buckets of water to control the flames. PHOTOS: PATRICK TAY/FACEBOOK, GARNELL GLENN BERNARD/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - An electric bike left charging at the void deck caused a fire at Block 191 Boon Lay Drive on Saturday (July 27), barely two weeks after a blaze engulfed a flat at the same block.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force told The Straits Times on Sunday that it responded to the fire involving a power-assisted bicycle (PAB) at about 12.05pm on Saturday.

It said the fire was extinguished by members of the public using buckets of water prior to SCDF's arrival.

"There were no reported injuries as a result of the fire. Around 20 people self-evacuated from the block. The cause of the fire is under investigation," said SCDF.

On Saturday, Mr Patrick Tay, an MP for West Coast GRC, said in a Facebook post that the fire was caused by a personal mobility device (PMD), as he praised the efforts of the residents who helped put out the fire.

He said no residential units were affected by the blaze.

Facebook user Garnell Glenn Bernard, one of the residents who put out the fire, posted about the incident, saying the residents' efforts were in line with Singapore's "kampong spirit".

He said he hoped the person responsible for the fire would be "dealt with accordingly".

Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that a 36-year-old factory worker identified herself as the mother of the 17-year-old boy who used the bike.

She told Shin Min that she had not been able to pay the household electricity bill and when her son discovered the electrical socket at the block's void deck was not locked, he went downstairs to charge the bike.

The report added that the single mother estimated she has to pay the town council $3,000 for the electrical cable repair work and repainting of walls.

But she said she may have to seek help from the MP as she is facing financial difficulties.

On July 15, six people were injured and about 100 residents were evacuated after a fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit of the block.

SCDF is investigating the cause of the blaze that started on a mattress in the rental flat's bedroom at around 10pm. The family who had been staying there said there were no electrical devices charging in the bedroom at the time.

Fires linked to PMDs and PABs have been on an upward trend in recent years.

According to SCDF, 31 people were injured in 36 residential fires involving PMDs and PABs were reported in the first half of this year, up from 11 injured out of 23 such fires in the same period last year.

Disclosing these figures in a Facebook post on Friday, SCDF added that 54 reported fires - including non-residential fires - involved these devices between January to last month, more than double last year's figure of 24 in the same period.

Most of these fires involved lithium ion batteries, and occurred during charging or shortly after charging, said SCDF.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Tuesday that it was reviewing whether to bring forward a ban on all PMDs which do not have a specific safety certification known as the UL2272.

The UL2272 certification process looks at the fire and electrical safety of PMDs.

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