SINGAPORE - She was at work on Saturday morning when her teenage daughter, who was on her way to school, called her.
Madam Faridah Sharif, 52, a clinic assistant, could hear the panic in her daughter Farhana's voice.
"She told me that there was a fire in our block," Madam Faridah recalled.
Worried about her sick brother and elderly father, who were at home on the eighth storey of Block 27 Marine Crescent, she quickly left the clinic a few blocks away to check on them.
The men were fine, but Madam Faridah was shocked to see fire raging from a unit on the 10th storey. She said: "The woman who lives there, Florence, is my friend. So I called her at once."
Florence, who was out at the time, answered the phone and it was clear that she wasn't aware of the fire.
Madam Faridah asked her if anyone was home.
Florence, who is in her 60s, replied in a flustered tone: "Oh my God, yes! My husband is inside. I'm rushing back now."
That was the last time Madam Faridah spoke to her friend.
Florence's husband, who is visually impaired, died in the fire in the fiveroom flat.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman said that it was alerted at 9.30am.
He said: "Forced entry into the unit was carried out by SCDF. The fire in the unit was raging, and involved the contents of the living room and two bedrooms. (The) unit was also heavily smoke-logged."
The fire was extinguished within 45 minutes. The cause is under investigation.
Madam Faridah said she found out only hours after the fire had been extinguished that Florence's husband had died. She has not called her friend as she does not want to disturb the family, who must be grieving.
She said her neighbour lost his eyesight only in recent years.
Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who is a Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC,wrote on Facebook that he had visited the block. He was at the scene around noon with other grassroots leaders to assist residents affected by the fire.
He said: "(I have) also instructed HDB, Town Council, RC and PAP Branch secretaries to render assistance and help the family cope with their grief."
When The New Paper on Sunday visited the flat yesterday evening, the aftermath of the fire was clearly visible.