Singapore

Couple rescued from HDB fire caused by charging e-scooters

Firefighters break into flat to save unconscious man with burn injuries and woman with smoke inhalation

In yet another residential fire caused by charging e-scooters, firefighters broke into a Bukit Batok flat yesterday to rescue a couple trapped inside.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said a man was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital after he was found unconscious in the unit with burn injuries.

The firefighters, who wore breathing apparatus, also rescued a woman, who was taken to Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation.

The SCDF said it responded to a residential unit fire on the 26th storey of Block 293D Bukit Batok Street 21 at about 12.40am yesterday.

Its officers had to cut through the iron gate and prise open the wooden front door to enter the smoke-filled unit.

The fire, which involved the contents of the living room, was put out with two water jets, the SCDF said.

About 70 residents in the Housing Board block were evacuated by SCDF and police. Most of them returned home by 3am.

An elderly man, who was injured while being evacuated, was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, the SCDF said.

The SCDF is investigating the cause of the fire.

Bukit Batok MP Murali Pillai said in a Facebook post yesterday the cause of the fire was traced to two e-scooters.

He also praised the "lion-hearted" volunteers from Zone 12 Residents' Network for quickly opening its centre for evacuated residents to rest there.

Chinese-language evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that the man had fainted in the toilet and suffered third-degree burns after he went back into the unit to rescue a pet dog.

Neighbours said the injured couple, who have no children, lived in the flat with the dog and a parrot. A neighbour living on the same level said he knows the couple as Sam and Hui Xin.

A 25th-storey resident, who wanted to be known only as Mr Kai, said he suddenly noticed his ceiling was "trembling" and heard screaming.

When he looked out of his window, he realised the unit above his was on fire.

He woke his wife up and told her to get down to the ground while he went to fight the fire.

Mr Kai, a 36-year-old train captain, told The New Paper: "I took the fire hose reel and went upstairs."

He was shocked to see his neighbours standing on an air-con compressor on the ledge outside their flat.

"Neighbours were at the staircase trying to calm down the couple," he said.

About 10 neighbours joined Mr Kai to try to put out the fire before the SCDF arrived.

A 51-year-old freelance personal trainer living on the 27th storey said he saw firefighters break into the unit.

"I then saw firefighters rush out with a woman. They also carried a man out and did cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him."

The number of fires involving personal mobility devices (PMDs) or power-assisted bikes is rising, SCDF figures show.

Last year, there were 74 such fires, a 51 per cent increase from the 49 cases in 2017. These fires typically happen while the batteries of the devices were charging or shortly after.

Big Wheel Scooters Singapore chairman Denis Koh, who sits on the Active Mobility Advisory Panel, said: "Illegal modifications may compromise the internal electrical system design of PMDs."

He hopes the UL2272 standard being adopted to minimise the risk of fire incidents will greatly improve public safety.

From 2021, all motorised PMDs used on public paths must be UL2272- certified.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah told TNP she will speak on fires caused by charging PMDs and ask the Government to look into education and deterrent measures to prevent such fires when the Fire Safety Bill is debated in Parliament.

Yesterday, a man was jailed for two weeks after injuring two people while riding his e-scooter on a pedestrian bridge.

Ms Lee said: "I am happy to note that mandatory e-scooter registration, which I have been advocating, will mean such PMD riders will be tracked down in the future.

"However, stronger laws and enforcement need to be in place to protect pedestrians.

"I will keep fighting for them." - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KOK YUFENG

ACCIDENTS FIRE FLOOD