The part-time kitchen helper was nervous, but his "instinct" told him that he should cross the road to check if anyone was still inside the offices above a burning pub.
Just as well that Jereld Song, 17, trusted his instincts - against the wishes of his boss who was concerned for the teenager's safety - as he ended up rescuing a man who was oblivious to the fire.
Jereld, who works at Rudy Sports Cafe, has no first-aid training or experience with fire.
He told The New Paper: "Everybody was just standing around, so I went there in case someone's life was in danger."
TRIED TO STOP HIM
The fire broke out at Pub Villas at 56, Duxton Road yesterday afternoon.
The owner of Rudy Sports Cafe, who wanted to be known only as Mr Vincent, said he and his other employees tried to stop Jereld from risking his life.
He said: "We tried to stop him because he is young and didn't have a mask, but he just went ahead."
Ms Sandra, who owns Mi Cara My Face beauty salon, which is next to Pub Villas, said when she saw Jereld running up the stairs of the three-storey building, she handed a surgical mask to a passer-by, who then went after Jereld to pass him the mask.
Jereld said: "It was very smoky upstairs. At the second-storey unit, I knocked on the door but there was no reply."
When he went to the third storey, he rang the doorbell. When no one answered, he opened the unlocked door and saw a man in his early 40s sitting on a chair in the office.
"He didn't know there was a fire until I told him. My first thought was to get him down to safety," Jereld said.
He gave the mask to the man and they went down unharmed.
Mr Vincent said: "It was very brave of Jereld."
But the teenager modestly downplayed his brave act.
Ms Sandra said: "We could smell and see smoke coming from next door at 12.30pm.
"Of course, we were afraid that we would be affected. We have been here nine years and it was the first time a fire had broken out." She said the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived "within minutes".
An SCDF spokesman said two fire bikes, two fire engines, one Red Rhino and two support vehicles were sent to the scene.
The fire fighters forced their way into the locked pub and put out the fire with a water jet. The fire was believed to have started from electrical appliances.
No one was injured.
The owner of Pub Villas, who was not there when the fire started, inspected the badly damaged interior with SCDF personnel at around 3pm.
Declining to be named, he told TNP: "It is a disaster. There is loss of income as we cannot open for business. It could take a week to clean up."
He said he was at home when he received a call from ADT Security Services to tell him the fire alarm at the pub had gone off.
No one was at the pub, which has been operating there for 11 years, because it opens for business only at 6pm.
This article was first published on September 6, 2014.
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