He escapes fire wearing only his shorts

He escapes fire wearing only his shorts
AFTERMATH: Two men were rescued from a burning flat in Jurong early yesterday. The 40-year-old was found unconscious and had suffered serious burns to his body. The 70-year-old man suffered smoke inhalation.

He heard shouts and thought there was an argument between neighbours.

A few moments later, Mr Steven Pua, a resident of Block 119, Ho Ching Road in Jurong, realised that the din was actually shouts, warning residents to evacuate their flats.

A fire had broken out four doors away from his third-storey unit at around 1am yesterday.

Said Mr Pua, 50, a taxi driver: "When I heard 'Fire! Fire!', I immediately told my family to wake up and run (out of the flat).

"I then grabbed a 4kg fire extinguisher from my flat to help fight the fire. But the fire was too big."

Mr Pua, his wife, the couple's two daughters and their two children - an infant and a three-year-old child - reached the bottom of the block safely.

All the cabby had on him was his shorts.

Likewise, his family members were in their sleeping attire.


"I had no chance to look for a shirt. My priority was my family," said Mr Pua, who has lived in his three-room flat for 11 years.

"The children were still asleep when we stumbled out in the dark."

There was a power blackout. The fire had blackened part of the corridor's ceilings near the third-storey unit and spread to the units above.

A fifth-storey resident, Mr Salleh Zakaria, said the thick smoke made it impossible to see where he was going.

Said Mr Salleh, 30, in Malay: "The smoke and heat had blanketed the fifth floor. All we could see (through the smoke) was the flashlight held by one SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) officer who came to evacuate us."

He and his wife ran towards the light and later reached a central stairwell.

At the grass patch below, more than 100 residents - some without shoes and others with soot on their faces - sat behind police cordons as they watched SCDF firefighters attempting to douse the fire from the burning unit.

Firefighters were seen first breaking the burning unit's window, said Mr Salleh. Soon, they got into the unit via the front door and evacuated the occupants.

Said Mr Salleh: "I saw two senior citizens receiving first aid below the block. The one on the stretcher looked like he had suffered serious burns. The skin on his arms were red and peeling. They also used a device to help him breathe."

Residents from other blocks, like Mr Lee, was alerted to the fire by the sound of SCDF fire engines.

Said Mr Lee, 35: "The evacuation was smooth. The rescuers went to every unit to check that residents had evacuated."

Other witnesses said two residents complained of breathing difficulties.

By about 2.15am, residents were allowed to return to their flats.

Added Mr Salleh: "I just hope none of our appliances at home are damaged. We've made plans to watch Mr Lee Kuan Yew's state funeral 'live' on TV."


A spokesman for SCDF said two men were rescued from the burning unit and taken to National University Hospital.

A 40-year-old man, who was found unconscious, suffered smoke inhalation and serious burns to his body. The other man, age 70, suffered only smoke inhalation.

The spokesman said that the origins of the fire "involved contents in the living room".


This article was first published on March 30, 2015.
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