63-year-old woman dies in Punggol flat fire, 3-year-old granddaughter warded

Madam Maimon Sharif, the 63-year-old who died in the fire.
PHOTO: Hafizal Mohamad Tahir

The three-year-old girl lay on the ground, seemingly unconscious, as paramedics hovered around her and placed an oxygen mask on her face.

Residents looked on with concern for her well-being as the girl was placed inside an ambulance, and they were relieved to see her hand move.

The girl, who was rescued from a burning flat in Punggol yesterday, is now warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital, not yet aware that her grandmother, Madam Maimon Sharif, 63, had died in the blaze.

Grandma probably faught hard to save u...

Posted by Md Hafizal Md Tahir onĀ Monday, October 15, 2018

Her father, Mr Hafizal Mohamad Tahir, 36, told The New Paper last night: "She's talking a bit and resting well.

"The doctors are keeping her warded to monitor her carbon monoxide levels."

The IT officer added that his daughter, who had suffered minimal smoke inhalation, "does not seem to understand that her grandma is gone".

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) responded to the fire on the fourth storey of Block 163B Punggol Central at 12.35pm yesterday.

An SCDF spokesman said that firefighters, wearing breathing apparatus sets, forced their way into the smoke-logged unit, where they found the girl in a bedroom.

They put out the fire, which involved the contents of the kitchen, using one water jet.

Unfortunately, Madam Maimon was found motionless in the flat and pronounced dead at the scene by an SCDF paramedic.

When TNP went to the block around 5pm yesterday, charred pots and a partially melted child safety gate were seen outside the unit.

A Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council worker was cleaning the common corridor, which was covered with black soot.

Mr Hafizal, the second of Madam Maimon's three sons, said he believes his mother was cooking when the fire broke out.

"It's her usual time," he said.

"My brother and sister-in-law would come over with my niece and nephews for lunch with us."

Madam Maimon lived with Mr Hafizal, his wife and daughter in the flat.

Mr Yeo Zhen Yang, 23, an interior designer, said he was with a group of friends on a roof garden overlooking the unit when the fire broke out.

He saw thick smoke emerging from the unit and immediately called the SCDF.

"The unit was pitch black, and a lot of smoke was coming out from the window," he said.

"When we went past the unit later, we saw a blue tent and knew something bad had happened."

But Mr Yeo was relieved to see that the little girl was okay.

He said: "When she was being put into the ambulance I saw her hand move."

The fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit at Block 163B Punggol Central. Photo: The Straits Times

Neighbours said Madam Maimon was friendly and took good care of her grandchildren.

Mr Sam Lim, 40, a salesman who lives in a neighbouring unit, said it was a tragedy.

"If anyone of us were around, we would have tried to knock down the door to save auntie. I felt really bad when we got the news," he said.

Mr Lim added that Madam Maimon's family has lived in the flat for more than 14 years, and that her husband had died only last month.

The fire broke out in a fourth-floor unit at Block 163B Punggol Central. Photo: The Straits Times

Mr Hafizal posted on Facebook that his mother had probably "fought hard" to save his daughter.

"It is with grief that I announce my mother Madam Maimon Sharif has passed away," he wrote in Malay in the post.

Her body will be taken from the mortuary to Masjid Pusara Aman in Lim Chu Kang Road at 11am today. His post said the family will be gathering at Mr Hafizal's brother's flat in Block 683C Edgedale Plains in the morning before taking a bus to the cemetery at 1pm.

The police and the SCDF are investigating the fire.

This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.