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Ang Mo Kio coffee shop fire: Stallholders bemoan losses, owner estimates it at $500k

Ang Mo Kio coffee shop fire: Stallholders bemoan losses, owner estimates it at $500k
A fire broke out at an Ang Mo Kio coffee shop in the early morning of June 11, causing damage to stalls.
PHOTO: Facebook/Singapore Civil Defence Force

An early morning blaze, which broke out at a coffee shop in Ang Mo Kio on Tuesday (June 11), has ravaged about 10 stalls and the hawkers are worried about the huge sums of losses they may face.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) were alerted to the fire at GHK 407 Food House at Block 407 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 10 at about 2.40am. Eighteen residents living above the two-storey block were evacuated by the police and no injuries were reported.

Preliminary investigations found that the fire likely originated from unattended cooking at one of the stalls.

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News in the morning, the 73-year-old coffee shop owner, surnamed Wu, said a structural inspection will be carried out and that he has contacted the insurance company.

It is estimated that the coffee shop would suffer losses of at least $500,000.

"Seeing the coffee shop burn down is heartbreaking, but the most important thing is that the hawkers and their staff are safe," said Wu.

A bak chor mee hawker estimates his losses at tens of thousands of dollars if his raw ingredients as well as kitchen appliances and other equipment had been destroyed by the fire.

Similarly, the Western food stall owner made a conservative estimate of $30,000 in losses, reported 8world.

One stallholder reportedly attempted to smash open his charred cash register to retrieve his earnings.

How the fire broke out

According to Shin Min, the coffee shop operates round the clock. At the time of the incident, only the drinks and cai fan stalls were open.

The 43-year-old supervisor of the cai fan stall told the Chinese daily that a senior staff member and two other employees were working the night shift.

When the senior stall assistant returned from a toilet break, the fire had already broken out.

"He said he wasn't cooking anything. We'll have to wait for investigations to conclude to find out what started the fire," the supervisor added.

The 31-year-old drinks stall manager, who lives with his three co-workers in a flat above the coffee shop, said he woke his housemates after learning about the fire.

They rushed downstairs and attempted in vain to douse the raging flames which had engulfed three of the stalls.

"Less than 10 minutes later, the whole coffee shop was ablaze," recounted the drinks stall manager.

While the stalls were razed to the ground, the deity altar that was placed in a corner of the coffee shop was still standing, reported Shin Min.

Liu, 75, has been taking care of the altar for 45 years, which houses the statues of Tua Pek Kong (Taoist god of prosperity) and Di Zhu Gong (Landlord God).

"Many residents were suprised when they saw that only the altar was untouched," said the caretaker.

Senior Minister and Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Lee Hsien Loong visited the coffee shop at around noon and spoke to the owner as well as affected residents. 

"Luckily, the fire was put out quickly by the SCDF, and did not spread to the wet market and food centre next to it," he wrote in a Facebook post.

Apart from the SCDF and police, SM Lee also thanked the grassroots leaders, HDB and Ang Mo Kio Town Council "who are looking after the affected residents and business owners".

He also stressed the importance of having fire insurance.

"Luckily, the owner had fire insurance. This incident reminds us of the importance of having insurance too for our homes (even after the mandatory period), so that if we are caught in similar circumstances, we will still have some protection and help," he said.

"And if you own a wet market or cooked food stall, please protect it, and yourself, with fire insurance too!"

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