Blaze at Bukit Panjang coffee shop
Blaze damages all 10 stalls in Bukit Panjang coffee shop
What started out as a small fire in a Bukit Panjang economical rice stall soon escalated into a fiery blaze that damaged all 10 stalls in the coffee shop yesterday.
The thick smoke reached as high as six to seven storeys and sent residents of the HDB block fleeing.
Mr Shui Poh Cheng, 65,owner of the prawn noodle shop located one stall away from the economical rice stall, heard frantic shouts of "Fire, fire!" from the customers of the coffee shop at Block 257, Bangkit Road, at around 10am yesterday.
Shocked and confused, Mr Shui quickly grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran towards the stall.
"The stall was already bursting with flames," he said.
He and a few other tenants tried to douse the flames, but the fire just got bigger.
Mr Shui said: "A lot of people were shouting and moving away, but I knew I had to help to put out the fire or it would spread to my stall."
The blaze proved impossible for the tenants to put out and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was finally called in at 10.30am.
Its officers extinguished the fire in 20 minutes.
SCDF said it dispatched three firebikes, one fire engine, two Red Rhinos, one support vehicle and one ambulance.
There were no injuries reported.
As a precaution, SCDF also evacuated residents from the first two storeys of the block.
Two coffee shop tenants claimed the fire started when the cook at the economical rice stall left a wok with oil unattended and with the gas turned on.
The cook, who has been working at the stall for more than 10 years, only returned when they were trying to put out the fire, said Mr Shui.
Witnesses recalled their fear when the blaze started.
The economical rice stall's neighbouring tenant, who gave her name only as Mrs Tan, said she was cooking when she heard the shouts.
She said she heard explosions as well.
Fearing the numerous gas tanks behind her would explode, she immediately ran out of her stall.
Another eyewitness, housewife Serene Liow, 51, said she and her husband were at the market nearby when they heard "two loud booms".
"It was very scary and I was nervous when I heard the explosions. My hands are still shaking," said Mrs Liow.
The blaze charred the entire coffee shop, leaving it in a mess.
Metal parts of certain stalls were bent and cookware was strewn all over the floor.
The tenants are hoping the coffee shop will be renovated soon and that they will be compensated for their losses.
Mr Shui said: "The business at this coffee shop is the best in the area and now we cannot work.
"This is our livelihood so if we can't get renovation or compensation, it will be very difficult for us."
SCDF said investigations into the cause of the fire are ongoing.
It was very scary and I was nervous when I heard the explosions. My hands are still shaking.
- Housewife Serene Liow