Firefighters describe battle with biggest LPG fire in SCDF history
SCDF officers describe Jalan Buroh LPG fire as largest they have ever fought
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) described last Friday's blaze at 43 Jalan Buroh as the largest liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) fire its officers had ever encountered, and Lance Corporal Muhammad Fazlan Rozali, just two months into his stint at Jurong Island Fire Station, was among the first four personnel at the scene.
It was the 20-year-old's first firefighting experience, and he said yesterday: "I was scared because the situation was very unpredictable.
"When we arrived at the scene, we could feel the heat and we could see the LPG cylinders flying everywhere.
"The ground was shaking, and it felt like an earthquake."
About 120 firefighters were deployed to the blaze at the bottling and storage facility of Summit Gas Systems, and the fire claimed the life of a 43-year-old man, who was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
The Straits Times reported that the worker who died was Mr Wei Xiao Yong, a Chinese national. Two people were hurt.
SCDF was alerted to the fire just after 5pm, and it took six hours to put out.
Yesterday, nine of the firefighters, including Lance Cpl Fazlan, spoke at a press conference at Jurong Fire Station.
Lieutenant Tan Chun Hui, Rota Commander at Jurong Fire Station, was the first duty officer to arrive at the scene.
"The flames were about 20m to 30m high. I have never seen anything like it before," said the 26-year-old. "When we were there, we could feel and hear constant explosions."
The storage facility, about the size of two football fields, housed hundreds of LPG cylinders of various sizes that were meant for domestic and industrial purposes.
Under intense heat, the liquid petroleum in the cylinders turned to gas, resulting in the series of explosions.
The firefighters employed boundary cooling measures such as the setting up of water curtains to ensure the fire did not spread to other buildings.
The more pressing issue was the two 60-tonne LPG "bullet" tanks at the rear end of the premises.
Commander of Bukit Batok Fire Station, Major Navin Balakrishnan, 37, who was at the premises for a drill last year, remembered them and realised the threat they posed.
He said: "What was on my mind was that if this goes off, what you will have is fire cascading down further. As wild as your imagination can run, that's how wild the fire would run."
Maj Balakrishnan took a "calibrated risk" by going alone to ensure that the tanks were cool first before others went near them, to ensure that they remained safe.
He said: "I had to ensure the safety of my guys and not expose them to unnecessary risk. Certain risks are inherent, but we take whatever precautions we can..."
The firefighters brought the fire under control at 7.30pm.
Lance Cpl Fazlan's family knew he would be involved in the fire because of the proximity of his station to the location.
His mother sent a picture of the fire taken from their home in Jurong West to the family WhatsApp group.
Lance Cpl Fazlan said: "I could only reply at about 10pm after everything had settled down to tell them I was okay. They told me they were worried and had been praying.
"When I reached home the next morning, they called me a superhero."