SCDF to take action against eatery where 5 were scalded

SCDF to take action against eatery where 5 were scalded
IN HOSPITAL: Ms Er suffered third-degree burns to her face when a portable gas cooker exploded.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will be taking enforcement action against the hotpot restaurant where five customers were scalded on Saturday after a portable gas cooker exploded.

The restaurant, Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat, was found to have stored more than the allowed 200kg of petroleum and flammable materials in its premises without a valid licence, SCDF told My Paper yesterday.

"SCDF will be taking enforcement actions against the person or people responsible," it added.

This comes after a fire safety enforcement check by SCDF at the restaurant and two others in Beach Road on Tuesday. SCDF did not elaborate on whether the other two restaurants it checked had licences.

The owner of Chong Qing (Original) Steamboat said he did not know he needed a licence to store more than 200kg worth of gas canisters, evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday.

The man, who gave his name only as Mr Zhang, said he had been unaware of such a regulation and would apply for a licence.

Under SCDF fire safety regulations, the storage of any quantity of petroleum and flammable materials above 200kg in eating establishments needs to be approved and licensed by the SCDF. First-time offenders may be fined up to $5,000. Repeat offenders can be fined up to $10,000, jailed up to six months or both.

According to The Straits Times, the restaurant was still operating as of yesterday. Mr Zhang was quoted by Wanbao as saying that he needed to cover his rental costs of $26,000 and could not afford to close his doors.

He told Wanbao that the restaurant opened for business in Beach Road two years ago.

Separately, he told The New Paper that "we've been around for 18 years and such a thing has never happened before".

When a Shin Min Daily News reporter visited the eatery on Tuesday afternoon, Mr Zhang had replaced the restaurant's 15 gas-powered portable cookers with 11 electric stoves.

Three of the victims have since been discharged from hospital.

Mr Zhang visited the other two victims at Singapore General Hospital on Monday evening, Wanbao reported.

He said that it pained him to see 39-year-old Linda Er and a 29-year-old Thai singer, both of whom had suffered third-degree burns.

However, before he left 20 minutes later, he reportedly told Ms Er: "I wish you a quick recovery. Perhaps you will be even more beautiful after a skin graft."

Ms Er's family was outraged at his words and responded: "You've already got us into this mess, how can you say such things!"

Four of the five victims are planning to seek compensation from Mr Zhang.

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