Two rescued from Ang Mo Kio flat after blaze involving PMA scooter

The personal mobility aid scooter was in the living room of the 10th storey unit. PHOTO: SINGAPORE CIVIL DEFENCE FORCE/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - A man and his young son were taken to hospital in the early hours of Wednesday (July 7) after they were rescued from a flat where there was a fire involving a personal mobility aid (PMA) scooter.

The incident happened at about 12.25am at Block 314 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the PMA was in the living room of a unit on the 10th storey.

Residents of the block had banded together to extinguish the fire, splashing buckets of water through the window and doorway of the unit.

Madam Yogeswari Guindaraju, 32, a housewife who lives next door, said she heard loud taps coming from the flat and initially thought it was some neighbours quarrelling.

But to her horror, she soon realised the taps were made by her neighbour who is deaf and unable to speak. He was trapped in the raging inferno with his 10-year-old son.

When she came out of her flat with her husband, they saw the flames getting bigger.

They were soon joined by other neighbours from the same floor, and the group of about five residents quickly grabbed buckets of water to fight the fire.

"The flame was rising up to the ceiling little by little, and making popping sounds," said Madam Yogeswari. "We kept pouring water on the fire as it sparked, and suddenly there was an explosion, with the flames blasting up to the ceiling and breaking the window of the flat."

She added that despite the danger, the neighbours kept fighting the fire to save the man and his son.

"We couldn't breathe and our eyes were irritated by the smoke, but the fire was growing and there were two people inside, so we couldn't afford to wait till SCDF came," she said.

"My son is best friends with the boy, so we were all worried because we could only communicate with him."

Another neighbour, Mr Tony Especkerman, 52, who works in the nightlife industry, said he had used about 25 buckets of water in a span of about 10 minutes.

"We just kept on throwing pails of water onto the scooter through the open door," he said. "We were relieved after finally putting out the fire, but there was still smoke everywhere."

When the SCDF arrived, the firefighters forced entry into the smoke-filled unit.

Mr Mageswaran R. Vadivaloo, a cleaner who lives next door, demonstrating how he used a pail of water to try to put out the fire in his neighbour's flat. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

They said they found one person at the entrance of the unit and the other in the toilet.

The man was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) and his son to KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

Madam Yogeswari said the man appeared to have fainted when he was rescued and had to be carried down by paramedics, but the boy was conscious and walked down to the ambulance with SCDF personnel.

A third resident, from the 12th storey, was also taken to TTSH for smoke inhalation.

About 50 people from the block were evacuated by the SCDF and the police as a precautionary measure.

"Preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire indicates that it was of electrical origin from the PMA scooter," said the SCDF.

"SCDF would like to remind the public that motorised devices that are modified, not properly maintained or do not use the original chargers are fire risks."

Mr Especkerman said he was just glad that his neighbours were rescued. "I don't consider myself a hero or anything like that," he said. "All of us just wanted to chip in and play our part."

What you should know before fighting a fire

Members of public are advised to fight fires only if they are able to do so without endangering themselves and others.

They should also be aware of the appropriate tools to use for different types of fires.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) Emergency Handbook states that carbon dioxide or dry powder fire extinguishers should be used when dealing with fires involving flammable liquids, gases and live electricity.

Water should not be used in such instances, as it may put the person in danger.

The burnt personal mobility aid scooter in the living room of a unit on the 10th floor at Block 314 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, on July 7, 2021. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Using water with live electricity puts people at risk of electrocution, while using water on flammable liquids such as oil would cause the fire to spread.

Water should be used only on combustible materials such as paper, cloth, wood and plastic.

The SCDF recommends that each household have at least one approved dry chemical powder fire extinguisher weighing 1.5kg or more.

Such extinguishers can be used in many types of household fires.

The list of authorised fire extinguisher dealers and servicing workshops can be found on the SCDF website.

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