Family escapes fire, seconds before blast at Bukit Batok flat
Man falls asleep waiting for pan of oil to heat up
He was hungry after his night shift and wanted to eat some fries.
After leaving a pan of oil to heat on the stove the man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ali, stepped out of the kitchen and went to the living room to rest.
The civil servant in his mid 20s dozed off and the next thing he knew, his stove was on fire.
After his attempts to put out the growing fire failed, Mr Ali and his family fled the Bukit Batok HDB flat.
Seconds later, they heard what sounded like a gas cylinder exploding.
The fire happened just before 11.20am yesterday at Block 350, Bukit Batok Street 32.
Mr Ali told The New Paper: "Luckily, we got out in time."
He said he was at his second-floor home at about 10.30am yesterday with his mother and uncle, when he decided to have some fries.
He went to the living room to rest while waiting for the oil to heat up because he was exhausted from his night shift.
"I just wanted to sit down for a while. But before I even knew it, I fell asleep," he said.
Mr Ali found his stove on fire when he was awoken between 30 and 45 minutes later by a burning smell.
He quickly switched off the stove and grabbed a wet cloth to smother the flames. But the fire only grew bigger and spread to the wooden cabinet.
He shouted for help and his uncle came running into the kitchen.
Their attempts to contain and extinguish the fire were in vain as it kept growing.
Mr Ali suffered a minor burn when some of the hot oil splashed onto his foot.
He left the flat with his uncle and mum, before an explosion rippled through their apartment, he said.
A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman said they dispatched two fire engines, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes and an ambulance.
Firefighters put out the blaze using two water jets.
A man in his 20s was found with minor burn injuries but declined to be taken to the hospital, added the spokesman.
Twenty-seven other residents living on the first to fourth floors of the block were also evacuated.
One of them was Madam Siti Zaiton, 47, who works part-time in the food and beverage industry.
She was resting in her third-floor flat when she and her daughter saw thick, black smoke coming from the unit below theirs.
"At first we thought it was the haze, but the haze isn't thick or black," said Madam Zaiton.
She added that her flat's floor started to feel warm and she and her daughter fled to the ground floor.
"The fire seemed huge because the smoke was a few floors' high," Madam Zaiton said.
"We were completely shocked. We could only think of getting to safety."
When TNP visited Mr Ali's apartment at 3pm yesterday, the smell of burnt rubber and plastic lingered in the air.
The flat was covered in soot from floor to ceiling, and the kitchen completely charred.
A ceiling fan in the living room had melted, its blades drooping.
Mr Ali and his family were sweeping the flat and clearing out the destroyed furniture.
His father, who declined to be named, said his family of six would be putting up with their relatives for the time being.
There were 1,467 cases of residential fires in the first half of this year - a 7.2 per cent increase from the same period last year, said the SCDF.
Most of these were rubbish fires, with unattended cooking and discarded items also responsible for domestic fires.
BY THE numbers
Cases of residential fires responded to by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) between January and June this year - up from 1,368 cases during the same period last year
Calls about fires that the SCDF received between January and June this year - down from the 2,532 calls received during the same period last year