Tanjong Pagar car crash: Conservation shophouse sustained only 'surface scratches', says BCA

The damage was limited because of the speed with which the fire was put out. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY
The accident site at Tanjong Pagar road on Feb 13, 2021. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Tanjong Pagar conservation shophouse where a car crashed and burst into flames early on Saturday (Feb 13) sustained minimal damage, said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) on Sunday.

The statutory board under the national development ministry said an engineer was dispatched to the site on the morning of the accident, to assist with the assessment of the building structure.

"Other than some surface scratches on the column at the ground floor, the structural integrity of the building was not affected by the collision and the fire," said a BCA spokesman.

"BCA will direct the owner of the building to engage a professional engineer to carry out a more detailed inspection and propose rectification works, if any."

The Straits Times has contacted the building owner for comment.

The shophouse, located at 37 Tanjong Pagar Road, has been vacant since its previous occupant, the Five Oars Coffee Roasters cafe, moved out on Jan 29.

A check on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) online map confirmed it as a conserved building within the Chinatown-Tanjong Pagar district marked as "historic" by the authority.

Tanjong Pagar was gazetted as a conservation area in 1989.

The land the shophouse sits on is also designated for commercial development in URA's Master Plan, and privately owned, according to Singapore Land Authority data.

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Architectural conservator Yeo Kang Shua, an associate professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design, estimates the shophouse was constructed in the late 1920s.

"It's fortunate that the columns probably did not sustain a direct impact," he said. "Also, because it's a reinforced concrete building with a fair-faced (smooth) brick facade… it doesn't have much fire damage apart from soot sustained on the facade, from reported photographs.

"If the second-level floor was constructed in timber, the fire would have caused more damage."

Dr Yeo also said the damage was limited because of the speed with which the fire was put out, pointing to reports of the Singapore Civil Defence Force's response time.

The fire department was alerted to the fire at 5.40am on Saturday, less than 10 minutes after eyewitnesses first spotted the white BMW ramming into the shophouse and subsequently going up in flames. The male driver and all four passengers died in the crash.

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