Fire in Toa Payoh flat forces 70 residents to evacuate from block

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No injuries in 15th-storey blaze put out by SCDF in 15 minutes

She was asleep in the five-room flat when the incessant ringing of the doorbell woke Miss Nur Atiqah yesterday morning.

The 22-year-old, who was alone in the 16th-storey flat, then noticed black smoke.

Frightened, Miss Atiqah, a biotechnology student at Northumbria University, rushed out of her room to answer the door.

The neighbours from the two other units on the same storey were in the corridor, and they all saw thick black plumes of smoke coming out of the flat just below them.

The group knew they had to get out. They were among the 70 people who were evacuated from Block 45, Toa Payoh Lorong 5, because of the blaze in the 15th-storey flat.

The occupants of the affected unit, a family of five, were not home at the time.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman told The New Paper they were alerted to the fire at around 9.40am and had to force their way into the flat as no one was home.

The flames which enveloped the living room were extinguished by SCDF firefighters in 15 minutes using two water jets.

No one was injured, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

Speaking to TNP yesterday, Miss Atiqah said: "The smoke was thickest in the kitchen. We went down and knocked on their door, but there was no response.

"The flames were quite big. Paint started melting off my wall."

When TNP arrived at the scene at 10.15am, the smell of smoke was still in the air.

Residents were assembled at the car park, where there was a fire engine and several police cars.

Miss Atiqah and other residents helped bring a fellow neighbour, a wheelchair-bound grandmother in her 80s, downstairs to safety.

The Straits Times reported that by 10.38am, residents of the 14th storey and below were allowed to return to their flats.

At about 11am, a woman and her three adult sons who live in the affected flat returned but declined to speak to reporters.

According to the latest SCDF statistics, 2,818 reported fires - or 68.5 per cent of all fires - took place on residential premises in 2016, 2.8 per cent down from 2015, said ST.

These resulted in 26 smoke inhalation cases and 36 burn cases.

The top three types of residential fires involved rubbish, unattended cooking and discarded items. Rubbish fires made up the bulk of all fires at 51.2 per cent.