Joo Koon warehouse fire: 'Like something out of a movie'

Joo Koon warehouse fire: 'Like something out of a movie'
THE FIRE-FORCE: Seven fire engines, three Red Rhinos, nine support vehicles, one ambulance, and three Unmanned Fire-fighting Machines were involved.

He drove the forklift and used it to prise the shutters open.

And when it did, black smoke billowed out, obscuring his view.

But what Mr Eng Chai Huat (right) did helped firemen gain better access to the burning units and they got the fire under control after 30 minutes.

But it was not until hours later that the blaze, which started early in the morning, was eventually extinguished. By then, it was about 2pm.

The incident happened yesterday at a warehouse in Joo Koon, an industrial area near Tuas.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at 6.40am and sent seven fire engines, three Red Rhinos, nine support vehicles, one ambulance, and three Unmanned Fire-fighting Machines (UFMs) to the warehouse at 1, Joo Koon Crescent.

The fire involved paper products and combustible materials in two factory units.

Firefighters who arrived encountered a locked roller shutter and tried to cut a hole through it.

But the process was slow and the hole they had cut was not large enough, so they asked if there was someone who could drive a forklift.

Mr Eng, a production manager, answered the call.

"I felt it was my duty to step up," he later told The New Paper.

USED FORKLIFT

Because time was of the essence, he jumped into the forklift and used it to prise the shutters open.

"I didn't feel like I was in danger because the SCDF officers had gone ahead of me through the hole they made. They were also using hoses to spray at the shutters while I opened them - my shirt was drenched," said Mr Eng.

He added: "When I used the forklift to open the shutters, it completely fell apart due to the heat.

"The moment the shutters were lifted, black smoke billowed out. I couldn't see anything at all."

SCDF said it used the UFMs - a remote-controlled machine that can withstand temperatures of up to 600 deg C - to ventilate the smoke-logged area using high velocity airflow.

This reduced the temperature and allowed the firefighters to get closer to fight the blaze, which covered an area about the size of half a football field. About 80 SCDF officers were involved.

Mr Eng said he had seen fires before, but never this close.

"It was almost like something out of a movie," he said.

SCDF said one of its personnel suffered from heat exhaustion and was sent to National University Hospital. He has been discharged. There were no other injuries

kevingoh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Apr 29, 2015.
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