SBS bus driver dies of smoke inhalation after fire in JB home

SBS bus driver dies of smoke inhalation after fire in JB home

If only he had woken up his father the moment he saw smoke rising to the second storey.

This has been preying on student Leng Zhen Fei's mind since his father's death.

The 19-year-old partly blames himself for his father's death.

"I wanted to let him sleep a little more as he had barely gotten home.

"I should have woken him up immediately when I realised there was more smoke than usual," Mr Leng told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday.

Last Sunday, SBS Transit bus driver Leng Yoon On, 50, died of smoke inhalation after a fire destroyed part of his house at Taman Daya in Johor Baru, Malaysia.

The Johor Fire and Rescue Department was alerted at 7.20am and its firefighters arrived at the scene 10 minutes later. They put out the fire within 12 minutes, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported.

The older Mr Leng, a Malaysian who had worked in Singapore for more than a decade, was in deep slumber when the fire broke out.

As he worked the night shift, he usually went to sleep at 5am.

"My father was probably tired after his shift. He must have been in deep sleep when the fire happened. Usually, he is not a heavy sleeper," Mr Leng said.

The smell of smoke woke the younger Mr Leng at about 7am. "I came out of my room and saw a lot of smoke at the stairwell. I thought it was my mum burning something at the altar, so I didn't bother anyone," he said.

But a neighbour then shouted that plumes of smoke were coming out from the house's front door.

"My neighbour then checked the back door of our house and saw fire. He shouted for us to get out."

Mr Leng and his older sister climbed down a ladder that a neighbour had placed against the balcony.

"I wanted to go to my father's bedroom but smoke had filled up my room. I couldn't see where I was going. The smoke was blinding and suffocating us," he said.

His mother and younger brother were not home at the time.

After getting to safety, the siblings continued shouting for their father to wake up and flee the fire.

Neighbours even threw bricks at his bedroom window but there was no response.

"I felt so helpless, there was nothing we could do. If one of us had gone in to save him, one more person would have been in danger," Mr Leng said.

No ventilation

Initial investigations by the police and the Fire and Rescue Department forensic unit found that the fire could have been caused by burning joss sticks, The Star reported.

Johor Baru (South) OCPD Assistant Commissioner Sulaiman said the ceiling of the house was low and the doors and windows were shut at the time. The smoke quickly became thick as there was no ventilation.

Mr Leng Yoon On was cremated yesterday.

His family are putting up at a vacant house courtesy of Mrs Leng's friend as their house was badly damaged in the fire.

Mr Leng said his mother was no longer crying as much but the family was still trying to come to terms with his father's death.

"Perhaps it's because he died in this way. He was asleep and didn't even know about the fire. He didn't have a chance to escape," he added.


This article was first published on May 6, 2015.
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