His maid was hanging laundry outside the kitchen window when she saw smoke rising from the unit directly below their flat. The man, who declined to be named, told The New Paper in Mandarin that upon realising a fire had broken out at about 8am, his maid went to knock on the door of the unit involved.
When her knocks went unanswered, she thought no one was in the flat and returned to call the police.
A man in his 60s was later found dead in that two-room rental flat on the fourth storey of Block 78, Redhill Lane.
The fifth-storey resident said yesterday afternoon: "My maid was scared that the fire would affect my home because it happened at the unit directly below, so she called the police."
He learnt of the death of his neighbour, whom he had no contact with, from TNP team.
A neighbour from the third storey, who wanted to be known only as Madam Kamisha, 53, panicked because she was trapped in her two-room flat with three family members when the fire broke out. Her older daughter had taken the only set of keys to the flat.
Madam Kamisha, a housewife, was asleep in her living room at about 8.30am when her friend, who lives on the sixth storey, rushed down to tell her about the fire.
She was at home with her younger daughter, 33-year-old cleaner Siti Asmah, and two granddaughters, aged one and four. Madam Kamisha woke Ms Asmah, who was sleeping in the only bedroom, with the intention of evacuating the family.
"I saw from my kitchen window that there was black smoke from the unit upstairs and there was a strong burning smell in the air. I was very scared," said Madam Kamisha.
But at the door, she realised that her older daughter, Ms Siti Zubaidah, 34, had locked the gate when she took her eldest daughter, aged five, to her kindergarten
The family has only one set of keys as they had lost their spare set several years ago.
Ms Asmah said: "My mother was panicking. I told her to calm down and that everything was okay because the firefighters were here." When Ms Zubaidah, a housewife, returned at about 9.30am, the fire had been put out.
"I was so relieved when my elder daughter came back," said Madam Kamisha.
Fourth-storey resident Ng Kim Lian, 68, rushed to the void deck with her daughter after a neighbour informed her of the fire.
Madam Ng, a housewife, told TNP in Mandarin: "I woke my daughter who was sleeping in the room.
"When I stepped out, thick, black smoke was billowing from the unit as firefighters tried to put out the fire."
Her 42-year-old daughter grabbed her mobile phone and the pair waited at a convenience store. They were allowed to return home at noon. The man who died in the fire had lived alone.
Madam Ng, who has lived there for 30 years, said he used to walk past her flat every day at about 6am to buy food and cigarettes.
"Whenever he walked by, he used to say 'hi' to me, but recently, in the past month, he looked unwell and stopped talking to me," she said.
An elderly woman, who identified herself as the victim's older sister, said that her brother had suffered a stroke.
She said she visited him once every two months and declined further comment.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at 8.06am and sent two fire engines, one Red Rhino, two fire bikes, one ambulance and two support vehicles.
An SCDF spokesman said that firefighters had to force open the main door of the unit.
The fire was put out within five minutes.
A body was found in the bedroom and the man was pronounced dead by paramedics.
Police are investigating the unnatural death.
This article was first published on Nov 20, 2015.
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