'Once-rich businessman' dies in flat fire

SINGAPORE - An old man, who lived alone and was reportedly once a rich businessman, died in a fire at Telok Blangah yesterday morning.

The burnt body of Teo Leng Soon, 77, was found in a unit on the eighth floor of Block 3, Telok Blangah Crescent, Shin Min Daily News reported.

Two neighbours on the same floor - a man in his 30s and a woman in her 80s - were taken to the Singapore General Hospital due to breathlessness, The Straits Times reported.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it was alerted to the fire at about 7.15am.

Mr Teo had been living alone at the rental flat for more than a decade, but neighbours said he was once a businessman.

Li Ge Hong, who lived in the flat opposite Mr Teo, told Shin Min that the man used to be very wealthy and owned two houses. He drove a white Mercedes with a unique number plate.

"I remember his licence-plate number was very special: 2222," he said. Mr Li added that Mr Teo had gambled away his fortune and moved into the rental flat, where he lived alone.

Muhammad Fahmi Shaikmaroff, 64, who lives one storey below Mr Teo, said he thought something was wrong when he heard a thump yesterday morning, like a heavy object hitting the floor in the unit upstairs. He went up to check if anything was amiss.

"I saw thick smoke from the flat and heard some groaning. I banged on the door, but there was no response," he said.

Worried, he considered rushing home to get a hammer to try to break the door down, but firefighters had already rushed to the scene.

The firefighters forced open the door, and the blaze in the living room was put out in five minutes using a water jet.

They found Mr Teo's burnt body in the flat.

Mr Li said that when he saw Mr Teo's unit on fire, he had knocked on his door but no one answered it, so he thought the man was out.

Some neighbours thought Mr Teo had gone to a coffee shop and had looked for him there.

About 30 residents from the eighth to the 10th floors were evacuated.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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