The elderly man had returned home at about 5.45pm on Wednesday when he wondered why the floor of his one-room Owen Road flat felt very hot under his feet.
The 78-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lu, then noticed smoke billowing outside.
That was when it occurred to him that there was a fire below his eighth-storey unit.
Mr Lu, who lives alone, rushed downstairs.
His neighbour, wheelchairbound P. Lakshmi, 92, was killed in the fire.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the fire at Block 47, Owen Road at 5.46pm.
The police and SCDF evacuated the building and allowed residents back into their units only at 9.20pm.
Refreshments were provided to the evacuees at a nearby block during their threehour wait.
SCDF said it despatched one fire engine, one Red Rhino, one ambulance and three support vehicles.
The fire was extinguished with two water jets within 30 minutes.
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