Maid, kids jump out of 2nd storey window in fire at house near Kovan

Maid, kids jump out of 2nd storey window in fire at house near Kovan
BURNT: The stairwell was on fire, so the maid helped the oldest occupant escape through a window.

Panicking, she ran up to the second storey of the burning house. Smoke had filled the entire place.

The Filipino domestic helper, who gave her name as Naomi, tried her best to wake the family by banging violently on their room doors.

"I knocked on all of the doors, but there was no response," she told The New Paper yesterday.

"I also shouted, 'Fire! Help! Fire!'"

The fire had started at the first storey of the two-storey semi-detached house at Parry Avenue off Yio Chu Kang Road early yesterday morning.

The blaze, described by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) as "raging", engulfed the entire house, with flames penetrating through the roof.

It left six people injured and two dead. One of those injured was a firefighter.

Ms Naomi said she was fast asleep when she smelled something burning.

Curious, she made her way to the living room, only to find the entire sofa in flames.

She was shocked, but had the presence of mind to quickly call SCDF at about 3am.

Ms Naomi said: "The fire was very big. I was scared and did not know what was happening."

HOME

Ten people were in the house when the fire broke out: The great-grandfather of the Tan family, the grandparents, the parents, two children, a Caucasian guest, Ms Naomi and another Filipino maid Ennie.

As the smoke in the house grew thicker, Ms Naomi said she got worried for the man in his 80s whom she was taking care of and who is asthmatic.

She rushed back to the first storey to tend to him.

To the family's dismay and panic, the fire started spreading to the stairwell.

She escaped with the elderly man through the kitchen window at the back of the house. Ms Naomi said Ms Ennie was sleeping with the children, aged eight and nine, on the second storey.

To escape the raging fire, Ms Ennie and the children had to jump out of the window. Several others in the house also escaped the same way.

SCDF said it sent three fire engines, three Red Rhinos, six support vehicles and three ambulances to the scene.

Four water jets were used to extinguish the fire, while an additional two were used to prevent the fire from spreading to adjacent units.

The fire was under control in 30 minutes and fully extinguished at about 4.30am.

SCDF added that six of the residents managed to escape and it helped evacuate two others.

Two bodies were found on the second storey of the house during search-and-rescue operations.

Ms Naomi was one of the five survivors who were taken to the Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation.

She said one of her employers, who is in his 60s, suffered burns on his face and body. "When I saw him, his entire face and arms were black." A firefighter was also sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for heat exhaustion.

The police is investigating the cause of the fire.

Neighbours: The situation was chaotic

A man and his wife were sleeping when they were awakened by screams for help and sounds of explosions coming from outside their house.

Alarmed, Mr Victor Tan and his wife quickly stepped out and were shocked to see the house across the street on fire.

"We were quite horrified. The fire was so big and the flames were already licking the top of the house," said Mr Tan, 29, a business manager.

According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), by the time it arrived at the house on Parry Avenue, the raging fire had engulfed the house.

Six of the 10 occupants had made it out themselves and were standing outside the house.

But there were still four others trapped inside and there was a flurry of activity as the SCDF tried to evacuate them.

Neighbours told The New Paper yesterday that the situation was chaotic.

Mr Ong Wee Teng, 60, boss of a car spare parts company, said there was a lot of shouting and the police car siren drew out even more neighbours.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Amanda Tan Kye-Ning, 17, and her parents, Mr and Mrs Alan Tan, were among those who were awakened.

SHOCKED

"Our house is only three houses away from the one on fire. When we woke up and saw the huge fire, we were all very shocked," said Amanda.

Mr Tan said the neighbours tried to help by waking up the occupants of the houses flanking the one that was on fire.

"The people in the house then let the firefighters in so that they could climb over their walls to the burning house," said Mr Tan.

Housewife Brenda Tham, 57, said a neighbour told her that he had climbed over the gate of the burning house and tried to rescue one of the older men living there.

She added: "My neighbour told me that the man was on the first storey, saying: 'Help! Help! Save my children.'

"My neighbour pulled him towards the gate, but it could not open. Luckily, the fire engines arrived shortly after."

Ms Jane Tan, 58, said she is letting her affected neighbours stay in her home until they can find another place to stay.

"I saw one of their little boys near my house in the morning and one of his elbows was injured. His clothes were stained with blood," she added.

"I invited him and his family members into my home. It's the least I can do to help them."

Miss Sylvia Lim, the Member of Parliament for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency, was at the scene at about 2pm.

She could not reveal details about the fire or the family, but she said she had spoken to them.


This article was first published on June 10, 2015.
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