Retiree's Bedok South flat destroyed in fire
Retiree tries in vain to put out fire from his computer with water
As he walked into his room yesterday after going to the toilet, he saw sparks and smoke coming from his computer and its cables.
Recognising the danger, he tried to put out the growing fire with water, but that only made it worse.
Within minutes, the fire, which started at about 2.40pm, went out of control and swept through his 12th-storey Bedok flat.
Neighbours said there was at least one explosion.
The retiree, who wanted to be known only as Mr Jack, is in his 50s and lives alone in the two-room Bedok South Road flat, which has been his home for eight years.
When The New Paper arrived at the scene, Mr Jack stood outside what remained of his flat, his face lightly covered in soot, his body wrapped in a light-blue blanket, held close to his face.
He was initially reluctant to speak, but told TNP that his phone service was bad, so one of his neighbours had to call Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).
He later opened up and said: "I had no fire fighting equipment so I had to use water to put the fire out.
"I'm trying to call my family and my phone service provider, but nothing is going through."
When they realised there was a fire, his neighbours sprang into action.
Nur Saifullah Danish, 14, a secondary school student who lives three doors down from Mr Jack, saw smoke billowing out of the flat from his bedroom window.
He said: "I was lying on my bed watching YouTube videos, about to fall asleep when I smelt something burning.
"After I saw the fire, I told my two aunts and my mother to quickly evacuate our flat with my baby brother."
Once his family members had left, he rushed down to the 11th-storey to alert the neighbours to the fire.
Saifullah said: "There was a loud explosion from the flat. He then went into the lift and sat down without moving. I think he must have been overwhelmed."
Mr Murges Muthiah, 60, a security officer who lives on the 11th storey, was taking a nap when he woke up to the smell of smoke.
"I opened my door and saw my neighbours running outside the corridor.
"I immediately went up (with two neighbours) because I wanted to save anyone who was caught in the smoke. "But the smoke was too thick so the firefighters told us to go down."
On the ninth storey, a store helper who wanted to be known as Mrs Sidah, 35, said she was scared when she found out about the fire.
"My family and I quickly went outside our flat to shout for help, for someone to call SCDF.
"We had to take the stairs together with my three children and father-in-law, who is a stroke patient.
"It was difficult to get him to walk all the way down."
Mr Yeow Yew Hock, 65, who lives in on the ninth storey of a block diagonally opposite, alerted The New Paper hotline.
TNP understands from Mr Jack that the Housing Board will be placing him in a temporary rental flat.
SCDF said it received a call at about 2.40pm and was alerted to a fire at Block 38, Bedok South Road. It sent two fire bikes, one fire engine, two Red Rhinos, a support vehicle and an ambulance. They are investigating the cause of the fire.
After the fire was put out, Mr Jack was seen sitting at a bench by the roadside in clean clothes.
He said: "Everything is gone. Nothing can be salvaged. All of my memories and valuables are just gone."
Putting out electrical fires
Ex-SCDF firefighter Alvin Lee, 40, says that the worst way to extinguish an electrical fire is by water.
He said: "As water conducts electricity, it fries up electrical appliances, which will make the fire bigger."
He gives the following tips on how to handle an electrical fire at home:
- It seems obvious but the number one thing that a person should do when putting out an electrical fire is to switch off the affected electrical appliances. This would help prevent further damage.
- If you do not have a fire extinguisher at home, you can fight fires with household items such as sand, soil and powder, such as flour or baking powder. These items cut off oxygen from the fire.
- Another option will be to throw a damp towel or blanket over the fire to suppress it.