Woman escapes fire, but goes back for mobile phone
Woman sent to hospital after fire breaks out in Toh Tuck Close house
She was asleep in her terrace house when a fire broke out on the third storey yesterday morning.
She managed to escape with the maid, but when she realised she had left her mobile phone behind, she rushed back in.
It was a mistake. The fire had spread and covered the house with smoke and she was lucky to make it out alive.
She suffered from smoke inhalation and was taken to hospital.
The fire started at about 8.45am yesterday at Toh Tuck Close.
The owner of the unit, Mr Lim Peng Huah, 69, who runs a food stall at a nearby market, told The New Paper that his oldest daughter and maid were at home at the time.
Mr Lim said that he, his wife, two other daughters, his son-in-law and a daughter's boyfriend were out.
Mr Lim's son-in-law, who wanted to be known only as Mr Leonard, said his sister-in-law had rushed back for her mobile phone because she wanted to alert the family.
"Maybe she was panicking and didn't realise it was dangerous," he said.
Mr Lim said that by the time his daughter came out of the house, she was covered in soot.
A neighbour, Mr Eddie Tan, 64, a retiree, said he was showering in his home, five units away, when he heard his wife scream.
He said: "The fire was huge and burning through the roof. It was so bad the whole roof was damaged and the antenna was completely burned."
Ms Cecil Dhang, 38, a helper at a nearby condominium, told TNP that she heard glass shattering in her employer's fourth-storey unit.
"The fire was really huge and it was very scary as it was quite close to where I was," she said.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) sent a fire engine, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes, two ambulances and two supporting vehicles to the scene, said its spokesman.
They put out the fire in 30 minutes using two water jets.
The spokesman said that two occupants - a maid and a woman in her 30s - had fled the burning house by then.
The woman was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital along with a firefighter who received outpatient treatment for superficial injuries, the spokesman said. The firefighter was discharged yesterday afternoon.
The woman was alert and in stable condition.
Fire safety experts said occupants should not run back into a burning building.
When TNP reached the scene at about 10am, the police had cordoned off the area and a burning smell lingered in the air.
Neighbours told TNP they believed the fire originated from the air-conditioning system as they saw sparks coming from the compressor unit a few days ago.
Mr Lim said he did not know if that was the cause of the fire. Mr Leonard said they would be staying with relatives for now.
He later told TNP that his sister-in-law was transferred to Singapore General Hospital and is recovering.
He said: "It'll take some time and effort to clear out the water and debris, but the most important thing is that everyone is safe."
Maybe she was panicking and didn't realise it was dangerous.
- Mr Lim's son-in-law, Mr Leonard, on why his sister-in-law had gone back into the building
'IF YOU LOSE YOUR LIFE, THAT'S IT'
Re-entering a burning building could increase your risk of being harmed by as much as 80 per cent, said Greencross Safety Fire and Equipment chief executive William Lee.
Mr Lee, who has been a fire safety consultant for over 40 years, said: "Never go back in. You could be knocked out by the smoke, hit or trapped by falling debris, or killed."
Workplace safety and health consultant Lee Wee Kiat of Bibline Consulting told The New Paper that going back into a burning building is dangerous because the fire would have grown.
He said: "Injuries from fire and explosions can result in severe burns and concussion from explosion fallouts and hence death. Smoke inhalation could cause asphyxiation, resulting in coma or death."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said occupants should not return to a burning building until authorities say it is safe to do so.
Mr Lee Wee Kiat, who has been at the job for four years, agreed that occupants should not go back even if they may have left behind some seemingly important items.
This sentiment was shared by Mr Lee, who said: "Let the items burn because whatever you've lost can always be replaced. But if you lose your life, that's it."
Never go back in. You could be knocked out by the smoke, hit or trapped by falling debris, or killed.
- Greencross Safety Fire and Equipment chief executive William Lee, who has been a fire safety consultant for over 40 years.