Owner abroad, fire breaks out in flat
Fire believed to have started from air-con unit in living room
Mr Lee Bon Huan, 62, had just returned from his daily morning walk at Punggol Waterway, yesterday.
But as he exited the lift to head to his flat on the 13th storey, there was an acrid smell in the air.
When he saw black smoke coming from the corridor near his corner unit flat, he thought his flat was on fire.
Speaking to The New Paper (TNP) in Mandarin, the retiree said: "It was really very smelly, like the stench of burning plastic, and I initially thought that my flat was on fire."
But as he sprinted down the corridor, he realised the smoke came from his neighbour's home.
The fire broke out yesterday around 10am at Block 122B, Sengkang East Way.
No one was injured.
TNP understands that the fire originated from an air-conditioning unit.
Mr Lee said: "I knew that my neighbour had not been home for a few days, but I was worried that the fire was big and would spread."
He told his wife to call the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
When they arrived shortly after, Mr Lee and his family of four were told to evacuate the block, along with about 20 other neighbours.
The owner of the flat, whom Mr Lee said is in his 40s, was not home as he is currently on holiday in New Zealand and fire fighters had to force their way into the unit.
The SCDF received a call at 10.05am and dispatched two fire engines, a Red Rhino, two fire bikes and two support vehicles.
The fire, which was in the living room, was extinguished immediately with one water jet.
A housewife living on the same level was at home with her grandson at the time of the fire.
Madam Tan, 60, had heard the fire engine sirens and assumed the fire was at another block.
She was alerted to the fire only when she opened her front door and saw firefighters trying to break into the unit two doors away.
TURN OFF OUTLETS
Mr Alan Chin, 39, the owner of I-Cool Air Conditioning, said that people should turn off electrical outlets at home before leaving for long periods of time.
"If possible, turn off the main electric board so you can isolate the electricity, even the fridge, because that might catch fire too," said Mr Chin, who has 17 years of experience.
"(Such fires happen) when the plug and wire are of low quality as they might overheat (and catch fire)."
He also advised people to service their air-con units every three months to ensure they are working well.
A friend of the owner of the affected unit came to check on the flat at around noon. She declined to be named but said: "It's fortunate no one got hurt. The owner will be back on Friday."
It was really very smelly, like the stench of burning plastic, and I initially thought that my flat was on fire.
- Mr Lee Bon Huan
Past air-con fires
A fire broke out after an air-conditioning unit on the second storey of a terrace house near Holland Road, short-circuited.
No one was hurt.
Neighbours said the affected house was badly burned and the fire had damaged the roof.
An air-conditioning unit caught fire in the bedroom of a five-room flat in Woodlands Circle. The flat was badly damaged.
No one was hurt, but the family of four decided to spend the night outside their home at the narrow staircase landing as the SCDF had advised them against staying in their flat because the soot could cause breathing difficulties.
A fire at a POSB branch in Rivervale Plaza in Sengkang started in an air-conditioning unit and burned itself out before fire fighters arrived at the scene.
No one was injured.
About 20 people in the area evacuated on their own.