The family's cries for help pierced the air, but their neighbours could only watch helplessly as the fierce pre-dawn blaze rolled through the seventh storey Hillview Green condominium unit in Hume Avenue.
According to witnesses, the fire broke out around 5.30am yesterday. Residents quickly vacated the block but the family in the unit was trapped as the fire raged in the living room and blocked the path to the door.
A resident who lives on the fourth storey and wanted to be known only as Mr Han C K told The New Paper on Sunday the fire spread quickly.
"The whole thing was very scary because the fire was huge," said Mr Han, 62.
It appeared the family tried to find refuge in one of the bedrooms farthest from the living room. From his vantage point on the ground, Mr Han could see one woman at the window.
He said: "You could see her crying and screaming for help but there was nothing we could do." It is understood that the unit housed 10 occupants - Mr Alvin Ng Swee Seng, 68, his wife Madam Moreen Soh, 69, their two sons Mr Terrence Ng, 41, and Mr Timothy Ng, 29, their wives, two children and two maids.
Residents said three of the family members - Mr Ng, Madam Soh and their younger son - escaped the flat before the Singapore Civil Defence Force officers arrived.
Mr Timothy Ng told Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News he had clambered down from the balcony to a unit below.
He took a fire extinguisher from his neighbours and tried to put out the fire. That was when his parents dashed out the door, through flames and thick smoke, he said. The elderly couple sustained burns.
SCDF dispatched two fire engines, a Red Rhino, two support vehicles and five ambulances to the scene. Using two water jets, firefighters extinguished the blaze and rescued the remaining seven occupants.
All except one were taken to various hospitals for smoke inhalation.
The other Hillview Green residents were gathered at the condo's tennis court, where SCDF officers did a roll call to ensure everyone was accounted for, said Mr Han.
The elder Mr Ng - who had been taken to Singapore General Hospital with his wife - died later in the day.
Mr Timothy Ng told Shin Min Daily that his father, a retired businessman, suffered from heart problems. Mr Han and his family, who moved to the condo in 2000, had been friends with the Ng family for about 16 years.
"I'm very saddened to hear about Alvin. He was a really nice man and a good friend," he told TNPS yesterday evening.
Madam Soh is still in the intensive care unit.
Ms Low Yen Ling, Parliamentary Secretary (Education, Trade and Industry) and Choa Chu Kang GRC MP, visited the condo yesterday morning.
She told TNPS she and "the community leaders are assisting the family" and will "help the other affected residents as much as possible ".
She added that she would be visiting the victims in hospital. "They are receiving support from their family, friends and the community," she said.
Investigations into the fire are ongoing.
This article was first published on May 1, 2016.
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