Suspect, 61, arrested for mischief in Toa Payoh fire
A pre-dawn blaze on Tuesday led to chaos as residents of an HDB block in Toa Payoh scrambled to evacuate in the dark.
The fire broke out at the void deck of Block 14A, Lorong 7, Toa Payoh, at about 4.50am when most residents were asleep.
Some of them told The New Paper that they woke up to the smell of smoke and neighbours shouting about the fire.
A resident at the top of the 25-storey block, who gave his name only as David, 65, said residents from the ninth storey and above evacuated via a single enclosed staircase that was filled with smoke.
He said: "The elderly had so many problems evacuating, and some had to be carried down more than 20 storeys."
He added that none of the emergency exit lights worked, and residents were guided only by the light from their smartphones.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said the fire involved discarded items, and was put out within 10 minutes. A woman in her 60s was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for smoke inhalation.
A police spokesman said a 61-year-old man has been arrested for mischief by fire, and that investigations are ongoing.
Residents told TNP the flames had engulfed discarded items at the void deck, including bulky furniture dumped there.
A resident on the 16th storey, retiree Henry Yeow, 70, said there were no safety measures in place.
"Everyone is angry. We pay taxes and fees, but safety is not there," he said.
The incident resulted in utility services being disrupted for more than 24 hours, with most of them being restored by noon yesterday.
Lift services remained disrupted yesterday afternoon, with only one lift in service.
Queries by TNP to the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council yesterday went unanswered by press time.
Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat said the fire had disrupted 117 households.
"We will continue to monitor the supply of essential services at the block and ensure there are no more disruptions to residents," he said.
When asked about the emergency exit lights not working, he would only say that there were no serious complaints from residents when he was there.
"Such incidents are not prevalent, but they do point to a need for improved fire safety measures," he said.
"We will definitely look at the fire safety procedures for HDBs, and see if it can be improved."