SINGAPORE - Just five steps measured the distance between life and death for the two security guards killed in the fire at a posh Marina Bay condo.
If they had turned right and taken those steps, they would have found an emergency exit that could have led them to safety.
The New Paper understands there was another exit on the left, but that would have led them straight into the fire.
It is unclear what exactly Mr Sim Lai Huat, 58, and Ms Sooria Kala Kanaseon, 34, did, but one thing is certain - they perished where they stood, burnt beyond recognition in the lift on the 65th floor.
The events that led to the tragedy at Marina Bay Suites, a luxury condominium on Central Boulevard, began at about 10pm on Monday, when an alarm sounded. As part of protocol, Mr Sim and Ms Kala went to investigate.
They took the lift to the 65th floor, where the penthouse suite is located. It is believed the unit, which takes up the entire floor, is unoccupied.
It is also believed that there were renovation materials such as paint at the lift landing.
When the lift reached the floor, the doors opened partially before jamming. Smoke started filling the lift, choking the security guards.
TNP understands the doors were opened wide enough for them to exit, but it is not known if they had tried to do so.
Worse was to come.
As they were slowly suffocating from the acrid smoke, fire burst through the door engulfing them in a fatal inferno.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call for assistance at 10.10pm.
Three fire engines, three Red Rhinos, four support vehicles and an ambulance arrived at the scene seven minutes later.
When they arrived, they saw smoke from several upper floors.
The New Paper understands that 10 SCDF officers took a rescue elevator to the 46th floor, which is designated for residents to take refuge from fires.
CLIMBED 19 FLOORS
They then carried their heavy firefighting equipment and climbed 19 floors to the 65th floor.
On the way up, they had to overcome the thick smoke, which had spread to the 63rd floor stairwell. They could feel the intense heat from above.
The firefighters approached the fire via one of the staircases and touched the door handle of the exit to the lift landing. It was hot and they realised the blaze was just outside the door.
They retreated back to the 63rd floor and used the other staircase instead. The door handle did not feel as hot so they broke down this door to attack the inferno.
Setting up three water jets, they pushed the flames back. After some intense firefighting, the blaze was extinguished.
It was then that they found the two charred bodies of Mr Sim and Ms Kala inside the lift.
In all, 50 firefighters were involved. They went level by level to evacuate the residents from their homes.
An SCDF officer was also taken to hospital after complaining of chest pains and difficulties in breathing, said a spokesman.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Get The New Paper for more stories.