Mr Ishak Heng, 32, was taking a nap when his sister woke him and alerted him to a fire.
Just then, he heard the second of three explosions. So he ran out of his flat with his fire extinguisher and joined a ragtag team of about six residents trying to put out the fire.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the blaze at Block 18, Eunos Crescent, at about 8.30am on Thursday and sent a fire engine, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes and a support vehicle.
But the residents managed to put out the fire with buckets of water before the firefighters arrived.
An SCDF spokesman said the fire involved discarded items outside a unit on the seventh storey and about 10 residents evacuated themselves. No injuries were reported.
Mr Heng, a security officer, told The New Paper yesterday: "I didn't feel scared. The only thing on my mind was that I had to at least contain the fire."
Mr Heng, who had civil defence training during his national service, said he was worried the fire would spread.
The fire started outside the flat of his retiree neighbour, Mr Abdul Aziz Amat, 68, near the lift lobby.
Mr Aziz said he was sleeping when he was awoken by a commotion outside his flat. Although he was terrified, he half-filled a pail with water to help fight the fire. Among the items destroyed were Mr Aziz's bicycle and a trolley that had been in the common corridor.
He said he was grateful for his neighbours' help, adding that they were "very good" to him.
Retiree Chng Kiok Lai, 65, who lives a few units away, said she looked out of her window when she heard a loud boom.
A second blast produced black smoke. After a third explosion, flames started spreading upwards near the lift lobby.
She said in Mandarin: "I was so afraid, my entire body went weak. Even later in the evening, I could still feel my heart beating very quickly."
Despite her fear, Madam Chng chipped in by filling up buckets of water and passing them to her husband, Mr Tan Boon Shou, 75, who carried them to Mr Heng.
Another neighbour, a 33-year-old network engineer who wanted to be known only as Mr Leong, said he called the SCDF for help.
He was told not to try to put out the fire because SCDF was worried it might have been an oil or electrical fire.
Fortunately, it was not and the neighbours' efforts paid off when they extinguished the fire in less than 10 minutes.
Mr Heng said: "I am very proud of my neighbours because you don't really see neighbours interacting like this any more. It's a bit like kampung-style spirit."
The police have classified the case as mischief by fire and investigations are ongoing.
This article was first published on April 9, 2016.
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