Workers lose savings in fire at Choa Chu Kang dorm

Workers lose savings in fire at Choa Chu Kang dorm
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

A fire broke out in a workers' dormitory at a construction site along Choa Chu Kang Avenue 1 yesterday morning.

Three firefighters sustained minor injuries, but no one else was hurt in the fire at the site for Build-To-Order flats in Keat Hong Quad.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the fire at around 9.30am yesterday and dispatched vehicles, including three fire engines, three Red Rhinos, and three ambulances, to the site six minutes after the call.

SCDF firefighters faced challenges such as uneven terrain and low visibility caused by thick black smoke as they tried to put out the fire in the dormitory.

The fire was extinguished within an hour, using five handheld waterjets and a water monitor from an aerial vehicle.

Three male firefighters were hurt and sent to National University Hospital.

The Straits Times understands that one had chest pain, another had backache and the last had a swollen foot.

The dormitory houses about 250 workers, but most were at work when the blaze took place.

Mr Rahaman Mafuzur, 34, a Bangladeshi construction worker, for instance, was at work when the fire occurred.

He noticed a buzz among his co-workers, as a thick cloud of smoke rose nearby.

"At first, we did not know where the fire was from. During our break, we realised it was coming from the dormitory some of us stay at," he said.

By about 10am, a large crowd of workers had gathered near the affected area, some watching as their living quarters burned down.

Mr Mohammad Salman, 26, a Bangladeshi construction worker, said: "My heart felt the pain. Nothing left, all burned.

"Now I have no money to send back... $726, my work permit and my bank card are all gone."

Mr Mafuzur, a father of three, said: "I was saving for Puasa Ramadhan, to buy better food like meat to eat before fasting. But the $400 is lost. I am left with the clothes I'm wearing, and have to buy new clothes and boots."

Mr Alamgir Hossain, 27, a construction worker from Bangladesh, had travelled by MRT to the site of the fire from his worksite in Jurong East to ensure that his 22-year-old brother was safe.

"He lost all his valuables, but the most important is he's alive," he said.

Kuan Aik Hong Construction, the contractor of the site, declined to comment when contacted.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

wderek@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 12, 2015.
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