SINGAPORE - What is the first thing you would do when you see a fire? Look around for a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher?
That was not the case, though, for a group of about 20 onlookers at Ghim Moh Road on Sunday afternoon.
Instead, most of them whipped out their mobile phones to take pictures of a taxi whose engine was going up in flames.
Perhaps they were hoping to send the pictures to the newspapers, even though some were spotted busy scribbling down the taxi's licence plate number.
It took about 10 minutes before a brave soul finally stepped in to help.
Mr Lim Yee Chen, 39, a product specialist, was helping out at his aunt's fried kway teow stall at a nearby coffee shop when he smelled burning rubber.
"I went out to check and saw a crowd surrounding the taxi," he told The New Paper. "Most of them were taking photos, but no one was helping to put out the fire.
"I couldn't take it."
Mr Lim rushed back to the coffee shop, about 10m away, grabbed the fire extinguisher there and returned to the scene.
"I was just afraid of the taxi exploding so I wanted to extinguish the fire quickly," he said.
But his attempt was unsuccessful.
"The extinguisher ran out after 10 seconds so I went back to the coffee shop and used the fire hose instead," Mr Lim said.
This time, he managed to put out the flames in less than a minute.
The cabby, Mr Lee, 46, was grateful for Mr Lim's help.
He told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao: "I'm really thankful that Mr Lim came to help. It's rare for someone to help like that."
This was not the first time the taxi had given Mr Lee trouble, the cabby said.
Two weeks ago, he could not start his taxi due to a dead battery. A day after he sent it for maintenance, the taxi failed to start again.
On Sunday, Mr Lee said he had just dropped off his 13-year-old son near Ghim Moh for tuition when he noticed something was amiss with the vehicle.
"I heard some noises coming from the engine and smoke was coming out of the front of the taxi," he told Lianhe Wanbao.
He quickly parked his taxi at an open-air carpark near Block 19, Ghim Moh Road.
"When I opened the bonnet, the engine was already on fire. I was so scared that I called the police immediately," he said.
It is not clear why Mr Lee did not help put out the fire in his own taxi.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told TNP that no one was injured in the incident and the fire had been put out by Mr Lim when SCDF officers arrived at the scene.
Despite his bravery, Mr Lim insists that he is no hero.
"I didn't think too much about it. I just knew I needed to do something," he said. "It's no big deal."
This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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