SINGAPORE - When she smelled smoke at about 6.30pm yesterday, Madam Ina Mokhtar feared it came from her own bedroom.
Then she heard an explosion and her neighbour's frantic screams.
That was when she realised that her neighbours' 14th-storey flat was on fire.
Moments later, Madam Ina's neighbours - a man in his 70s, his daughter in her 30s and her eight-year-old son - were at her front door, shouting for help.
The elderly man was "distraught and panicking", said Madam Ina's husband, Mr Faizal Zulkifli.
He tried to put out the fire with the elderly man and his daughter, while Madam Ina watched the youngster.
But the fire was out of control and the group evacuated to the void deck of their home at Block 3B, Upper Boon Keng Road.
Said Mr Faizal: "There was a very big fire in their bedroom. We also heard an explosion, so we came out and ran downstairs."
His wife added that they heard the sound of glass shattering as they ran down the stairs.
Mr Fareez, a resident at nearby Block 5A, heard fire engine sirens and saw the smoke.
The 31-year-old human resource executive called The New Paper's hotline.
By then, several curious residents had gathered at the affected block.
Some told TNP that they had heard multiple explosions and the sound of breaking glass.
The family living directly above the burning unit was affected by the smoke.
Retiree Mr Yang Song, 73, said he saw "very thick smoke" coming through the window of his flat.
Ash stained the walls of his bedroom and most of the floor of his flat, where he lives with his wife.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at 6.20pm and sent a fire engine, two Red Rhinos, three ambulances and three support vehicles to the scene.
It said the fire was confined to the bedroom and was put out with water jets in 10 minutes.
Five people, including the family in the flat, were sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for smoke inhalation.
The New Paper understands that the other two casualties were tenants in the flat. Investigations are ongoing.
This article was published on Aug 21 in The New Paper.
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