Joss paper bonfire at foot of Sengkang HDB block ignites concern

PHOTO: Facebook/SingaporeRoadAccident

Despite repeated urging from religious leaders for Chinese devotees to burn offerings responsibly, some still persist in playing with fire — literally.

The burning of paper offerings may be a common sight during the seventh lunar month but footage of two men making their offerings with an open fire at a void deck of a Compassvale block sparked concern after it was shared on Facebook page Singapore Road Accident on Saturday (Aug 22).

The 16-second clip, which has been viewed over 170,000 times at the time of writing, showed two unidentified men standing over the bonfire at 206B Compassvale Lane.

One of them appeared to be prodding at the fire with a stick while the other looked on.

The flames, which came up to about chest height, sent embers and chunks of ashes billowing upwards.

Hope they didn't burn down the block

Posted by Singapore Road Accident on Saturday, August 22, 2020

The video quickly drew hundreds of comments criticising the men's actions and calling on them to spare a thought for their neighbours.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Facebook

Devotees living in public housing estates should only burn offerings in the designated metal bins provided by the town council, according to a fire safety advisory by the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

The bins should also be placed on sturdy ground and at 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

The Chairman (General Affairs) of Singapore Buddhist Federation, Venerable Shi You Guang, also took to Facebook last week to implore devotees to be kinder and employ "better ways" of practising their faith.

"Please do not burn your offerings at the drain covers or walkways," he wrote.

"Think about how the cleaners will feel when they have clean up after you unless you will clean all this up yourself."

Besides inconveniencing other residents and the estate's cleaners, causing or contributing to the risk of a dangerous fire is also an offence.

Should the fire result in any damage to private or Government property, the offender could face 18 months' imprisonment, a fine, or both.

If the fire causes hurt or injury to any other person, the penalty is up to three years' imprisonment, a fine, or both.

kimberlylim@asiaone.com