Police investigating case of mischief by fire after blaze razes Toa Payoh lift landing

A man looks at the aftermath of the fire at Block 5, Lorong 7 Toa Payoh. A resident was taken to hospital for breathlessness. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
A man looks at the aftermath of the fire at Block 5, Lorong 7 Toa Payoh. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Police are investigating a blaze that broke out at a lift landing in Toa Payoh on Feb 12, 2018, as a case of mischief by fire. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO
Scorch marks seen on the floor and wall of the lift landing where a fire broke out, on Feb 12, 2018. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - A fire broke out at a lift landing in Toa Payoh on Monday morning (Feb 12), with a woman taken to hospital after inhaling smoke.

The police told The Straits Times that they have classified the case as one of mischief by fire and are investigating the incident, which occurred at 8.25am at Block 5, Lorong 7 Toa Payoh.

The Straits Times understands that the incident occurred outside a lift on the eighth floor.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told The Straits Times that it was alerted to the fire at 8.25am.

"The fire, which involved discarded items, was extinguished by SCDF using a compressed air foam backpack," said a spokesman.

A 48-year-old resident of the block was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for breathlessness. She is believed to have a history of asthma.

Madam Aifah Arbaa, 48, told The Straits Times that she was in her two-room Housing Board flat in the morning when she heard a loud "boom". The unit is next to the lift landing.

"I opened my door and got a shock because black smoke suddenly filled my house. I quickly closed it but I was stuck inside with the smoke," she said.

She called the police and waited for firemen to arrive. They gave her an oxygen mask and took her to hospital at around 9am.

"I couldn't breathe. Even until now, I have problems breathing. I also have a headache still, but I can go home later today," she said.

Her husband, Mr Md Akbar Eunos, 54, was at his cleaning job in Lorong Ah Soo when he received a call from Tan Tock Seng Hospital at 11am.

Mr Eunos said he was really scared when the hospital called but was relieved that his wife could be discharged.

Another woman in her 70s did not want to be taken to hospital.

An MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mr Saktiandi Supaat, said the fire damaged wiring in four corridor lights, but electrical supply to all flats was not affected.

"We will leave it to the police to find out the cause of the fire," he said. "We are working to clean the area and to get the wiring operational by the end of Monday."

In a post on Facebook, Mr Saktiandi said workers from the town council have been working the whole afternoon to fix the affected lights and lift.

He applauded the "kampung spirit" shown by grassroots volunteers and the RC Zone 1 manager, who visited residents at the block after hearing about the fire.

Mr Saktiandi said he will be stepping up efforts to raise awareness of fire safety and prevention.

When The Straits Times arrived at the scene on Monday afternoon, workers were fixing the wiring at the lift lobby on the eighth floor.

Ms Hayat Abu Bakar, 53, a fourth-floor resident, said the block houses "many old folks".

"It's extra dangerous for people to leave things in their corridors that can become fire hazards, because the elderly can't get away quickly if there's a fire, and children who run around freely in this block will not have time to escape too," she said.

Police investigations are ongoing.

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