The bravery and quick-thinking of two boys helped prevent a fire in Hougang from becoming a tragedy on Tuesday.
They were playing basketball at a court when they suddenly noticed thick smoke billowing from the third storey of a nearby HDB block. Marcus Tan, 17, and his friend, David Laxamana, 13, sprang into action immediately.
They ran up to the third storey of Block 506, Hougang Avenue 8 and braved the thick smoke to warn the residents.
"By the time we got there, the fire was quite large and had spread to the ceiling. There was nobody at home in the flat just next to where the fire had started along the corridor," Marcus told The New Paper yesterday.
"It was hard to see each other in the thick smoke. We were all coughing."
Then the boys realised that a couple living in the adjacent corner unit were trapped inside, as the fire raged outside their front door.
When the boys ran to a flat three doors away, an elderly woman and her son, who is in his 30s, handed them pails of water to douse the fire.
Said David, "We must have used more than 30 pails of water, going back and forth. There were popping sounds coming from burning objects."
It was a race for the elderly woman and her son to fill the buckets for the two boys to fight the fire.
By then, a second-storey resident, Madam Remi Wakio, and her son had also joined in to help.
Madam Remi, 45, said in Malay, "We added detergent to the water to make it more effective against the fire. I was praying that the trapped woman and her husband would be okay.
"We shouted to them to remain inside because her front gate had become too hot from the heat of the fire. If not for the two boys, nobody would have known about the fire."
The six good Samaritans managed to put out the fire in the corridor in about 20 minutes.
But the fire had already spread to the flat where no one was home.
Fortunately, firefighters from the Singapore Civil Defence Force had arrived by then to put out the fire that had spread to the unit, Madam Remi said.
The trapped couple were rescued unhurt.
When TNP visited the couple yesterday, the wife, who is in her 40s, recalled the ordeal.
The woman, who declined to be named, said in Bahasa Indonesia, "I noticed the smell of smoke at about 1.30pm and I went to open the front door to have a look.
"But it was too late... it was too risky to come out of the flat. All I could do was to scream for my husband, who was asleep, to wake up."
The couple had no choice but to remain inside and hope that their neighbours would put out the fire before it spread to their flat.
When approached by The New Paper, the occupants of the fire-damaged flat declined to comment.
When asked about his new-found hero status, Marcus said, "My father had read about the fire in a Chinese newspaper and realised what I had done. He laughed and said 'good job' to me."
This article was first published on October 3, 2014.
Get The New Paper for more stories.