He was with his friend at the foot of his block at about 3pm yesterday when he saw plumes of thick black smoke coming out of a kitchen window of a flat on the top storey.
Mr K. L. Yang, 67, soon realised that his adjacent neighbour's unit on the 12th storey was on fire.
"My first thought was to check if anyone was in the flat and to get them out," said Mr Yang, who has lived at Block 122, Bishan Street 12 for more than 20 years.
He was alone at home at the time as his wife and son had gone to work.
The retiree suspected that his neighbour was at home because the smoke originated from the kitchen and he thought it could have been caused by cooking.
He tried to get his neighbour's attention for about 15 minutes.
"I kept knocking. When no one answered, I didn't give up. I knocked even louder," he told The New Paper in Mandarin.
He also knocked on the door next to the smoke-filled unit, but its residents were also at work.
Mr Yang eventually managed to wake his neighbour, who was on medical leave from work.
"She told me that she had taken medication and was sleeping," Mr Yang added.
TNP understands that the woman, who is from the Philippines, is a tenant in the four-room flat.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it received a call for assistance at about 3.20pm.
It sent two fire engines, one Red Rhino and supporting appliances to extinguish the fire. No one was injured.
The neighbour was outside the flat when The New Paper arrived at the scene at about 3.50pm yesterday.
She looked distressed and declined to speak.
Another woman, also from the Philippines, was seen comforting her.
Madam Christine Tan, 58, who lives on the 11th storey of the same block, said that it was lucky that the woman's neighbour had been around during the fire.
The housewife said that she smelled smoke, but could not see the fire as her unit's view was blocked.
"As neighbours, we have to look out for one another," said Madam Tan, who has lived in the block for 30 years.
This article was first published on June 18, 2015.
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