Geylang fire: Man who died asked everyone to stay and wait for help
Malaysian man who escaped fire last December lost his brother who stayed put with three others for fear of getting burned
As thick, black smoke engulfed the walk-up apartment, his brother told everyone to wait for help in their room or they would get burned.
But Mr Muslin Musundo, 41, did not listen and fled the burning three-storey Geylang Lorong 4 apartment instead.
That decision gave him burns, but it also saved his life.
His brother, Mr Maslan Musundo, 43, died from smoke inhalation in the fire on Dec 6, 2014, along with three other roommates who stayed behind.
In terms of the number of lives it claimed, it was the worst fire Singapore had seen in 10 years.
Eight were injured, including two firemen.
Yesterday, a coroner's inquiry was convened in the State Courts over the deaths of the four Malaysians - Mr Maslan, Mr Jubitol Rumanjing, 37, Mr Ramu Kotiah, 50, and Mr Yusoff Masrong, 49.
All of them worked here as cleaners.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) established that the fire was electrical and an accident, said the investigation report.
Police have ruled out foul play in the fire that broke out on the first storey of the walk-up apartment with bedrooms.
The court heard how that day, the two brothers and their five roommates had gone to sleep between midnight and 12.40am.
At about 1.10am, Mr Ramu shouted for his roommates to wake up as there was a fire.
That was when Mr Peter Awat, 48, a cleaner who is also from Malaysia, opened the door and saw thick, black smoke and a small fire outside the room.
Mr Awat told the authorities that Mr Maslan advised him not to go out or they would get burned, the court heard. He also said the room was starting to get hot.
He and another roommate, Mr Sapawi Ahet, 48, quickly fled the walk-up apartment via the main entrance and got out unscathed.
A few minutes later, they saw Mr Muslin running out with burns to his skin, an indication of how large the fire had grown by then.
At least 10 other foreign nationals, including Bangladeshis, Chinese and Indians, also escaped the burning apartment.
SCDF officers arrived at the scene at about 1.45am, five minutes after they received a call for assistance.
They put out the fire, which had become very large by then, about 30 minutes later.
When firefighters found the men in the windowless room, three of them were lying face up.
The fourth man had a blanket wrapped around his face, probably in a desperate attempt to block out the smoke.
Three of the men were pronounced dead at the scene while Mr Maslan died later in hospital.
Yesterday, SCDF fire investigation team leader Yazeed Abdul Rahman told the court that the fire was most likely caused by a wiring fault in the florescent lighting at a common area near the room.
Even though there were electrical appliances such as a kettle, a rice cooker and a multi-plug socket outlet in that area, they were not switched on and could not have started the fire, he said.
Captain Yazeed added that from there, the fire could have started and spread to the rest of the first storey of the three-storey walk-up apartment block.
An autopsy report revealed traces of cyanide in the body of one of the dead men.
This could have stemmed from the poisonous fumes emitted when styrofoam boxes in the walk-up apartment were engulfed by the fire, said police investigation officer Mervyn Lee, who also took the stand yesterday.
Inspector Lee also said that the room where the Malaysians were found was not cluttered and nothing was blocking the entrance.
He added that the men had just woken up and were possibly groggy, disorientated and unsure of their way around the walk-up apartment as they had been living there for at most a few months.
The court also heard that Mr Muslin, who suffered some burns to his skin, has since returned to Malaysia.
State Coroner Marvin Bay will deliver his findings at a later date.
TNP INFOGRAPHIC: LEE HUP KHENG
A two-year-old boy suffered third-degree burns after a fire broke out in his Circuit Road flat on May 19.
The fire had started in the hall and engulfed a mattress.
It is believed that when he saw the flames, he rolled his younger brother away from the fire and suffered burns to his limbs and face.
The fire was put out by a neighbour with a pail of water before the Singapore Civil Defence Force arrived minutes later. The boy is still undergoing skin grafts in hospital.
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Three others were injured.
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"The residential unit does not have the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) planning permission to be used as workers' dormitories," said a URA spokesman.
A 77-year-old man died after a fire swept through his rental unit at Telok Blangah Crescent on Oct 20, 2014.He was alone at home then.
Two neighbours were taken conscious to the Singapore General Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.