'If not for him, I would have died'
Sleeping man saved from burning flat by neighbour of 30 years
He was home watching TV at about 11.30am yesterday, when he smelled smoke.
It seemed to be coming from below his ninth-storey flat at Block 22, Havelock Road.
Mr P. Ganesan, 51, immediately rushed down floor by floor - from the ninth to the fifth - to look for the source. He was worried for his neighbours.
After some frantic knocking on doors, the school attendant found a fifth-storey unit on fire.
Inside, bartender Gilbert Lim, 34, was sleeping in the master bedroom, blissfully unaware that the fire that started from his altar had begun spreading through his living room.
He had just completed an eight-hour shift, and reached home at 6am.
His wife, two kids - aged three and five - and his grandmother were not at home.
He said: "I normally work from 9pm to 5am and reach home at 6am, before sleeping six to seven hours in the day."
Mr Lim was so exhausted that he did not hear the crackling of the flames or smell the smoke that was enveloping his flat.
"I was already in a very deep sleep by the time."
Four storeys up, Mr Ganesan was on leave and watching TV when he smelled smoke.
Mr Ganesan said: "It smelled like wires burning, so I ran down and looked down every corridor to find the fire.
"Then I asked someone on the sixth storey to call the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
"When I found the flat, I started banging on the door to check if anyone was inside, and shouted, 'Fire! Fire!'"
Mr Lim was alone as his wife was sending their kids to kindergarten, and his grandmother was out for a walk.
He said: "I was sleeping in my room, then I heard Mr Ganesan banging.
"I was already groggy from the smoke and didn't want to wake up, but he kept knocking."
When Mr Lim finally stumbled out of his flat, Mr Ganesan felt he should try to extinguish the fire.
Using six pails borrowed from neighbours, he and Mr Lim took 20 minutes to put out the fire.
The SCDF and police officers arrived shortly afterwards.
Mr Lim, who was unhurt, was thankful that Mr Ganesan had noticed the smoke.
He said: "If he had come 10 minutes later, I think I would have died of smoke inhalation."
A grateful Mr Lim gave Mr Ganesan a bottle of whisky and two bottles of wine.
The incident has brought the two closer. Before this, they did not know each other well, although they had been living in the same block for almost 30 years.
Mr Lim said: "We would greet each other if we met along the corridors, and my kids will greet him as 'Uncle', but we don't really talk that much."
Not any more.
Mr Lim said: "After all, I owe my life to him."
I was already groggy from the smoke and didn't want to wake up, but he kept knocking.
- Mr Gilbert Lim on his neighbour, Mr P. Ganesan