Her flat was burning, but all the elderly woman could think of was salvaging bags of used items from the rented unit.
The blaze, which destroyed the third-storey flat at Block 8 French Road in Lavender, broke out at about 8am yesterday (Nov 26).
No one was injured.
Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that the woman, identified only as Madam Tan, 78, had accidentally knocked down a candle on a prayer altar.
As the flat was filled with junk, the flames spread quickly, it reported.
A neighbour, Ms Erni Safian, 48, told The New Paper that Madam Tan refused to evacuate. The retail assistant said: "My daughter asked her to come out, but she took out her things one by one. I was scared for her life. The smoke was getting so black and thick, but all she could care about were her things."
Ms Shakina Jamil, 30, also tried to get Madam Tan out to no avail. It was not until her mother went into the burning flat that she agreed to leave.
The aviation officer said: "Auntie was crying but told me to carry her things out. I told her she had to evacuate quickly."
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said the fire was extinguished with a water jet. When TNP arrived at 3.30pm, the air was still thick with smoke.
Neighbours described Madam Tan as a friendly woman who lives alone.
Mr Azali Alin, 36, a food delivery rider, said her flat was so cluttered there was no space to move around in.
Madam Tan, who is staying with a neighbour, declined to comment. Investigations are ongoing.
This article was first published in The New Paper. Permission required for reproduction.