Driver left with $4,000 bill after rented car catches fire from joss sticks in Punggol

PHOTO: Facebook/Feez Yo

There was a loud bang, and the next thing Fazli knew, his rented car had caught fire from joss sticks.

As a result of the damage, the car rental company asked Fazli to foot a $4,000 bill, his sister shared in a Facebook post on Aug 19.

The 35-year-old had been in his Punggol home with his father, Muslim Yusop, when the incident happened that day. 

Yusop told AsiaOne he heard a loud bang while in the kitchen, only to realise the sound came from his son's car.

When the two of them rushed down to take a look, the back of the car was already ablaze as a result of five lit joss sticks, Yusop recounted.

As it also happened to be the first day of the seventh lunar month, the joss sticks were believed to have been placed there as part of the offerings to spirits. 

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) confirmed they extinguished the fire.

Post updates below ⬇️ 27/08/20: Although we have received some good replies from our fellow neighbours, there are still...

Posted by Feez Yo on Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Rented car for work

Yusop said that his son had rented the car for two months in order to provide delivery services to his company, Airasia, as his usual job had hours cut due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the car rental company's insurance covered the damages, Fazli was told that he would still have to pay $2,000 as excess — an amount of money required before the insurance policy stepped in and covered the claim. 

As the cause of the fire was out of his control, he approached his town council for assistance in payment. After informing the car rental company of such, they told him that he would have to fork out a separate payment of $2,000 as compensation as the damaged car had to be scrapped.

"It is not fair," Fazli told AsiaOne. "I am paying for what is needed but to ask me for another $2,000 is not reasonable.

"It wasn't my fault that the car caught on fire."

His father added: "He didn't notice any joss sticks when he was parking. If he did, he wouldn't even have parked there."

Fazli has since updated the town council of the situation and has been told to wait for their response.

In his sister's Facebook post, she pleaded for Chinese devotees to be more mindful, saying: "We have no problems with our neighbours burning joss sticks during your holy month but please be mindful on where you burn them." 

This isn't the first car to have sustained fire damage from joss sticks.

In 2018, a BMW in Jiangsu, China, caught fire after its owner lit joss sticks to celebrate the purchase of his new car.

More recently, a Mercedes in Singapore was spotted with a charred behind, next to several melted candles and burnt joss sticks stuck in the ground.

PHOTO: Facebook/Singapore Road Accident

Recently, the SCDF released a fire safety advisory reminding devotees to burn offerings only in the designated metal bins provided by the town council. The bins should also be placed on sturdy ground, a safe distance from combustible materials and residences.

𝗙𝗶𝗿𝗲 𝗦𝗮𝗳𝗲𝘁𝘆 𝗧𝗶𝗽𝘀 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗦𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻𝘁𝗵 𝗠𝗼𝗻𝘁𝗵 中元节社区防火安全 The annual Seventh Month is approaching. For those who will be burning...

Posted by Singapore Civil Defence Force on Saturday, August 15, 2020

Contributing to the risk of a dangerous fire is also an offence. Should the fire result in any damage to private of Government property, the offender could face 18 months' imprisonment, a fine, or both. If the fire causes hurt or injury to another person, the penalty is up to three years imprisonment, a fine, or both.

rainercheung@asiaone.com