'Our lives are more important'

'Our lives are more important'
SHOCKED: (Inset) Ms Melody. The fire began in one of the bedrooms of the three-room flat on the second storey.

SINGAPORE - She had plans to go home for a holiday, but a fire destroyed that.

Ms Melody, a Filipina who works at the Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home, was eating in the living room when she noticed smoke coming out of her bedroom in the three-room flat.

Together with five others, Ms Melody rents a second-storey flat at Block 1, Jalan Bukit Merah. Around 4pm yesterday, she was home with two others when fire gutted her bedroom, which she shares with another woman.

She yelled for her colleague and flatmate Wasantha Karunathilaka, 31, who was in the kitchen.

Mr Wasantha said: "I tried to kill the fire by throwing buckets of water, but I couldn't, so we rushed out of the flat."

In their haste to leave the flat, the two of them and another flatmate, who had been sleeping earlier, left their valuables inside.

The two Sri Lankans were lucky enough to have taken their cellphones and wallets with them, but not Ms Melody.


"She left everything inside, even her work permit," said Mr Wasantha. "She is quite sad now."

The other residents of the flat also hurried to the scene from work upon hearing the news. Mr Chaminda Ariyaratne, 32, said: "We are lucky nobody is injured, not even a scratch or a burn.

"We can replace the other things, but our lives are more important."

The six residents of the flat are migrant workers who moved in during the past two years.

Ms Melody was quite shocked and was in tears.

"She had been planning to go back to the Philippines for a holiday, but after this, not so sure any more," said Mr Chaminda, also a Sri Lankan.

A Pacific Healthcare Nursing Home representative also arrived to comfort the employees. Ms Jenny, an admin manager, said: "We are arranging for the staff to stay in one of our rooms for the night."

The neighbouring flat did not appear to be affected while the tailoring shop directly downstairs closed for the day.

The water from the Singapore Civil Defence Force's (SCDF) water jets had soaked some of the cloth at the front of the shop.

Owner of Moon Tailor, Madam Ng Beng Gueh, who is in her 50s, said: "The cloth will dry, so it's okay. But the officers advised me to close shop until they had checked the wiring upstairs."

An SCDF spokesman said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.


This article was published on April 22 in The New Paper.

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