60 firefighters put out blaze at Toa Payoh factory
Toa Payoh factory caught fire early yesterday morning, blaze raged for more than an hour
Some 30 employees of California Laundry arrived at their Toa Payoh factory yesterday morning to find their workplace gutted by fire.
Unsure of what to do, many hung around until they were told to go home at just after 2pm, said an employee who wanted to be known only as Madam Teo.
The 53-year-old said she had no idea about the massive fire that blazed through the factory and its paper factory neighbour.
California Laundry mainly serves the hospitality industry, washing bed linen, towels, tablecloths and napkins. Its clients include Raffles Hotel, Mandarin Oriental and Pan Pacific Singapore.
The fire started at about 2.25am yesterday at Block 11, Toa Payoh Industrial Park.
Residents from Block 231, Toa Payoh Lorong 8, which overlooks the factory, said they heard two explosions at about 2.45am.
Many rushed out to the common corridor and saw flames leaping from the factory's collapsed roof.
Madam Wong Ah Moi, who lives on the 12th storey, told The New Paper at about 5.30am that she had spent close to four hours standing in her corridor, watching firefighters battle the blaze.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said that two fire engines, three Red Rhinos, one ambulance and eight supporting vehicles were sent to the scene.
Firefighters arrived to find the blaze raging and used five water jets to prevent the fire from spreading.
Sixty firefighters were involved in the operation and at the height of it, seven water jets were used, encircling the blaze.
The blaze was under control within 90 minutes.
No one was injured and investigations are ongoing.
TNP PHOTOS: ELIZABETH LAW
When TNP visited the area again yesterday afternoon, damping-down operations, where firefighters douse remaining embers with water to completely put out the fire, were still underway.
Workers were seen leaving California Laundry after being told there would be no work for the day.
When TNP approached an elderly man, who said he was the company's owner, he said: "I am very sad. I cannot tell you anything now."
Business records show that the company's directors are Mr Michael Tay and Mr Bernard Tay.
In February 1991, a fire also broke out at the same place, starting at a printing factory, Union Inks And Graphics. It spread to a gas shop and California Laundry.
At the time, the blaze went on for about two hours before it was brought under control.
In a statement to TNP, a Building and Construction Authority spokesman said its engineers conducted a joint inspection yesterday morning with those from the Housing and Development Board.
The mezzanine floors and roof structures of both units were damaged by the fire. Two units to its left and right also had minor damage.
Both affected units have been closed as a precautionary measure.