Infant taken to hospital as latest PMD fire guts Bukit Batok flat
Residents again raise concerns about their safety even as review is underway on PMD use in Singapore
A three-month-old infant was taken to hospital for smoke inhalation from a fire believed to have been started by a charging personal mobility device (PMD) in Bukit Batok yesterday.
The baby girl was being cared for by her grandparents, who live one floor above the fifth-storey flat that went up in flames in Block 416 Bukit Batok West Avenue 4.
The couple's sixth-storey neighbour, housewife Razia Ali, 35, said they ran to her unit with the baby girl in her grandma's arms to alert her to the fire.
She grabbed her six-month old son and joined her neighbours in hurrying down the stairs to the foot of the block.
"The baby was crying loudly, and paramedics later said her oxygen levels were low," Madam Razia told The New Paper.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which responded to the fire at around 10.40am, said the infant was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, and a male occupant in the affected unit to Singapore General Hospital, also for smoke inhalation.
Its officers used a water jet to put out the fire, which involved the contents of a bedroom.
Preliminary investigations indicated the cause of the fire was of electrical origin from a PMD that was being charged, SCDF said in a Facebook post.
About 30 residents were evacuated as a precaution.
When TNP went to the scene yesterday afternoon, Madam Razia said her neighbours were still with their granddaughter in hospital.
She told TNP last night that the grandparents had told her the baby has to be monitored in hospital in case the fumes she inhaled are poisonous as they were from a PMD fire.
A man who was at the burnt unit said his mother-in-law lives there with her two teenage sons. Declining to be named, he added that he had just got there and knew little about the fire.
The air in the flat was still hot and most of the walls were darkened. Broken tiles and debris covered the floor of the bedroom where the fire started.
Student Beshil Faizal, 14, who was at his friend's home opposite the affected unit, said: "When we smelled smoke, I opened the door and saw his neighbour running out of his flat, as thick smoke swirled behind him."
The youth, who looked about 17, told them the battery of his e-scooter had exploded while he was charging it.
Housewife Marie Seerangam, 45, said she was cooking in her fourth-storey unit when she heard an explosion.
She later saw thick black smoke emerging from the unit above hers.
"I looked down and heard people shouting that there was a fire. There were also small explosions," she said.
She woke up her son, 10, and rushed downstairs with him and her husband.
Ms Seerangam said her neighbour, a teenage boy, told her that when he came out of the shower, his e-scooter, which he had been charging, was on fire.
The fire happened a day after Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary told Parliament about a review to make PMDs safer for pedestrians and mitigate their fire risks.
It is unclear if the PMD involved was UL2272-certified - a set of safety requirements covering the electrical drive train system, including the battery.
E-scooter owners are required by law to have their devices UL2272-certified by July 1 next year.
SCDF statistics show 54 reported incidents of fire involving PMDs and power-assisted bicycles in the first half of this year, a 125 per cent rise from the 24 in the same period last year.
In July, a 41-year-old man in Bukit Batok was believed to be the first person to die from a fire caused by a PMD being charged.
Yesterday's affected residents told TNP that they were concerned for their loved ones' safety as PMD fires become more common.
Ms Seerangam said: "It's dangerous in HDB blocks because we live in such close proximity, and the fire could easily spread to the surrounding units."
Madam Razia said: "My son had asked me to buy him a PMD awhile back but I said no.
"No way will I ever let that thing into my home."