Man charged with causing fire at Jurong West market

The man who allegedly caused a fire that razed a wet market and two coffee shops and disrupted the livelihoods of dozens of hawkers, was yesterday charged in court.

His head slightly bowed, Lim Ying Siang, who wore a striped polo T-shirt, had a blank expression when the charge was read.

The 41-year-old Singaporean had allegedly set fire to styrofoam boxes at the market at Block 493, Jurong West Street 41 last Tuesday at 2.42am, knowing it would likely destroy the market.

Lim, who was charged with committing mischief by fire with the intent to destroy a building, could be jailed for life, or imprisoned for up to 10 years and fined.

He will be remanded for a week for investigation and recovery of evidence. His case will be heard again this Friday. Lim, whose occupation is not known, was arrested by police in Jurong West Street 41 last Thursday.

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The fire has caused stallholders income losses of hundreds to thousands of dollars a day. Some had only 15 minutes to salvage their belongings before hoardings were put up at the site on the night of the incident. Many of the stalls and equipment were damaged.

A multi-agency effort is under way to help the 51 affected stallholders. The Housing Board and the National Environment Agency offered stallholders from Blocks 493 and 494 in Jurong West Street 41 a list of market stalls and food stalls available in Clementi and Ghim Moh.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development is also helping.

Several stallholders said Lim was often seen in the area. One stall owner at the affected Block 494 coffee shop said Lim was her customer and often had his meals there.

In a Facebook post, Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng, who entered the cordoned-off area of the fire site yesterday, observed that the fire had destroyed "almost every thing".

"Once in a while, we could see debris dropping from the burnt roof..." he said. "Nonetheless, I pleaded with HDB to allow displaced stallholders to gain access to the cordoned site to look at whatever is left." He said arrangements have been made for displaced stallholders to enter the site today.

This article was first published on October 16, 2016.
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