'So scared fire was waiting for us'
BAREFOOT: Madam Chow Poh Chee (left) and daughter Low Kit Poi fled the scene without footwear. PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS
Report by NATALIE SOH
Thick, acrid smoke was billowing into the corridor, quickly engulfing mother and daughter as they tried to escape the second-storey unit of their Geylang shophouse.
Restaurant worker Chow Poh Chee, 51, said they had been woken up by her husband.
She grabbed her daughter, Miss Low Kit Poi, and using a blanket as cover, rushed to the stairwell: "It was impossible to see anything. I was so scared that there would be fire waiting for us at the bottom."
As they left, her husband was still calling out to members of their extended family who live in their unit.
Some 11 people lived there, spread across five rooms, they said.
Miss Low, 29, a service executive, used her mobile phone to light their way.
FIRE DRILLS HELPED
"I attended fire drills at work. So I knew I had to get to the nearest exit, but it was frightening.
"I know it couldn't have taken us long to get out, mere seconds or minutes, but it felt like a long time while we were trying to get out of all that smoke," Miss Low said of their escape from their residence of over 20 years.
In the rush, Madam Chow took a tumble at the bottom of the stairs.
When she finally got out, she turned back, but did not see the rest of her family. They would be reunited after the family members escaped via a staircase at the back of the shophouse.
Madam Chow was taken to Singapore General Hospital, where her injured leg was treated.
This reporter met the duo a little after dawn yesterday. They were walking barefoot since they had fled without footwear.
Madam Chow recalled the chaotic rescue scene: "People were carried out by the firemen, all covered in soot, but they were already unconscious. The smoke was very thick.
"It was like we were in a movie. We were lucky to have escaped."