SINGAPORE - The man behind the locked gate was calm despite a fire raging in his flat.
"The heat was intense and his skin was all red," Mr Clement Koh recounted of his sixth-storey neighbour, Mr Liu, who was trapped in a blaze on Wednesday.
Mr Koh's father, who was also at the scene, went back to his seven-storey unit to get a sledgehammer to break the lock. At the same time, Mr Koh and other neighbours tried using brute force to open the gate.
"We sat on the floor and pulled the gate grilles together," the 24-year-old Singapore Management University student said, recalling the fire which happened at Block 873, Yishun Street 81 around 8.30pm.
"We were shocked when the grille actually bent," he added.
With renewed vigour, they continued pulling and created a small gap at the bottom of the gate and Mr Liu crawled out. But it wasn't over.
Mr Koh's father asked Mr Liu if there was anyone else inside, and to everyone's surprise, he said his sister was still in the flat.
The neighbours were shocked as there had been no sounds from the flat indicating the presence of another person.
Mr Koh and the neighbours then tried to open the gate fully.
But as the fire was too strong, they decided to focus on putting it out.
Neighbours from different floors brought buckets of water, while Mr Koh and several others managed to connect a hose to a water point at the stairwell.
Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel had arrived by then and they took over.
They entered the flat, extinguished the fire using a water jet and rescued the woman, Madam Liu, who was showering when the living room caught fire.
When The New Paper visited the unit at about 5pm on Thursday, the family was busy moving their belongings out while the crew of a maintenance company helped them remove the debris.
The Liu siblings were taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for smoke inhalation but had been discharged by the time TNP visited their flat. They live in the flat with a younger brother and three nieces, all of whom were not in during the blaze.
According to Lianhe Wanbao, the family from Ipoh, Perak, has lived there for the past five years.
The younger Mr Liu, who had rushed to the scene at around 9pm, told TNP: "I am glad and very thankful to the neighbours for their help. Residents in this area are all really friendly and helpful."
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