Singapore

Poh Ann Keng temple badly damaged after a fire

Devotees send messages of encouragement to temple management

What should have been an auspicious day turned out to be an ill-fated one for a Taoist temple at 95 Tampines Link.

A fire at the Poh Ann Keng temple badly damaged the front hall, prayer altar and many statuettes on Saturday morning, the fifth day of Chinese New Year.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the fire at around 6.50am.

The fire was extinguished using one water jet, SCDF said.

No injuries were reported.

An SCDF spokesman said yesterday that it is still investigating the cause of the fire.

Temple supporters issued messages of encouragement and commiseration.

Facebook user Ah Ho wrote in Chinese that the "heartless" fire burned away the memories of countless people, but asked the temple's management not to give up. "With perseverance and faith, you can definitely do it," the user said.

A Poh Ann Keng spokesman told The Straits Times that engineers will be conducting checks on the structure of the temple tomorrow.

A temple volunteer, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, estimated the damage to be between $300,000 and $400,000.

"I am very sad... some of the statues destroyed in the fire were as old as the temple itself," said the 56-year-old.

The temple, known for its five statues of the Monkey King, dates back more than 80 years. Some of its artefacts are believed to be more than a century old, the temple's website says.

According to the website, the temple moved from Geylang to Tanjong Pagar after World War II and returned to Geylang in 1990.

It moved to Upper Boon Keng Road in 1993 and to Bradedll Road in 1996, before returning to Geylang in 1999.

It moved to its current location in 2004.

About 30 statuettes were destroyed in the fire, Shin Min Daily News reported.

Temple director Xie Laifa, 70, told the Chinese-language newspaper that the temple had spent tens of thousands of dollars on renovations last November.

"We installed a new exhaust fan and repainted. Some of these statues were specially imported from China. To see them all burned to cinders now is regrettable," he said.

ACCIDENTS FIRE FLOOD