‘Spreading along the drains’: Football field-sized fire at Tuas industrial waste site put out after 6 hours

The SCDF deployed 34 emergency vehicles and 130 firefighters to No. 48 Tuas Crescent, where Unifine Star Petrochemical is located, on Dec 11, 2019.
The SCDF deployed 34 emergency vehicles and 130 firefighters to No. 48 Tuas Crescent, where Unifine Star Petrochemical is located, on Dec 11, 2019.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE/FACEBOOK
No injuries have been reported as of about 8.15am, about two hours after the SCDF was alerted to the fire.
No injuries have been reported as of about 8.15am, about two hours after the SCDF was alerted to the fire.PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE/FACEBOOK
SCDF personnel and equipment seen at the site of the fire in Tuas Crescent.
SCDF personnel and equipment seen at the site of the fire in Tuas Crescent.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
SCDF officers putting out the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.
SCDF officers putting out the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A nearby bus stop was also damaged due to the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.
A nearby bus stop was also damaged due to the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
A burnt tree trunk lies beside the railings which were also damaged due to the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.
A burnt tree trunk lies beside the railings which were also damaged due to the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG
Aftermath of the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent as seen from a neighbouring building whose windows were shattered due to the heat.
Aftermath of the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent as seen from a neighbouring building whose windows were shattered due to the heat.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE – A massive blaze that covered an area about the size of a football field in a Tuas industrial waste management site was put out on Wednesday morning (Dec 11), after firefighters battled with the fire for six hours.

No injuries have been reported so far, as no one was in the warehouse at the time of the fire.

The fire was so large that the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) deployed 34 emergency vehicles and 130 firefighters.

The SCDF was alerted to the incident at 48 Tuas Crescent, where Unifine Star Petrochemical is located, at 6am.

Firefighters arrived on the scene within four minutes of the call, an SCDF officer told reporters after the blaze was under control at 10am.

The fire was extinguished at noon and damping down operations commenced after. This refers to wetting burnt surfaces immediately after a blaze is put out to prevent any potential rekindling of the fire.

The cause of the fire is being investigated by the SCDF.

Unifine Star deals with toxic industrial waste, such as oil and chemicals, collecting, disposing and recycling them for other use.

In Facebook posts, the SCDF said that the fire was “was spreading along the drains”, and that there were “multiple explosions” from metal drums storing flammable industrial liquids.

An SCDF officer later said this meant that a “two-pronged attack” by SCDF officers was required to stop the “running flow fire” spreading downstream in the drains and to suppress the fire in the warehouse, so that the surrounding infrastructure was not affected.

Due to the intensity of the fire, firefighters first used 10 water jets and three unmanned firefighting machines to douse the flames, before SCDF personnel donned breathing apparatus and face masks and entered the warehouse.


SCDF personnel and equipment seen at the site of the fire in Tuas Crescent. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

An unmanned aerial vehicle was flown over the site to monitor the situation from the air, while foam was used to cover the surface of flammable liquids.

When asked by reporters whether the toxic industrial waste which Unifine Star stores on-site could lead to pollution concerns, the SCDF officer said an SCDF hazardous materials (hazmat) vehicle was deployed to roam and collect samples near the scene so that they could be sent to the National Environment Agency for checks.


Police cordoned off the road leading to the site of the fire at 48 Tuas Crescent. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The NEA said it also sent its officers to Tuas to measure the area’s air quality, which remained within safe limits. Readings recorded at the volatile organic compound monitoring station in Tuas were also at safe levels and special measures were not needed.

National water agency PUB told The Straits Times that water quality in reservoirs has not been affected as the drains near the site of the fire discharge water into the sea via the Tuas basin.

Both PUB and NEA are continuing to monitor the situation, including the water quality of the discharge into the surrounding waters off Tuas. 

SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.