SINGAPORE - His face and arms were covered in soot, more than eight hours after his flat caught fire. The smell of burnt furniture still lingered along the corridor of the Sengkang flat on the eighth storey.
They were all reminders of how he had come close to dying from a fire that broke out in his flat while he was sleeping.
Yesterday morning, blacksmith Ng Swee Lam, 44, was sleeping in his bedroom when his mother woke him up at about 9am to tell him one of their rooms was on fire.
They live in a four-room flat at Compassvale Lane.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted at 9.10am.
Mr Ng told The New Paper: "I'm still recovering from the shock."
Mr Ng lives with his mother, who is in her 60s. The room that caught fire had, for the past three years, been rented to a 25-year-old engineer.
Chinese newspaper Lianhe Wanbao reported that Mr Ng had tried to use more than 10 buckets of water to put out the fire, but to no avail.
The fire was eventually put out by the SCDF. No one was injured.
When TNP visited him in the afternoon, Mr Ng was still covered in soot and said he had been sweeping black water from his flat for the past five hours.
"I've no time to change. I've been too busy today," he said.
Mr Ng thought the fire could have been started by the tenant's computer, which was turned on and plugged in.
The tenant was not in when the fire broke out.
Added Mr Ng: "We'll just have to wait for investigations."