'The victims looked very scared'

Although the fire was largely contained to a bedroom, the rest of the flat suffered superficial damage from the smoke.

SINGAPORE - A fire broke out in a flat in Block 167D, Punggol East around 9.40am on Monday, trapping a woman in her 60s and her four-year-old grandson.

The fire on the 17th storey threatened to engulf the unit, with a lot of smoke pouring out.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), which was alerted at 9.47am, sent 25 officers, a fire engine, two Red Rhinos, two fire bikes, two ambulances, and a support vehicle to the scene and they arrived within eight minutes.

Officers then forced their way in to rescue the woman and the boy.

The New Paper understands that the woman was unable to find the keys to the padlock of the front gate.

Just as the victims emerged, a neighbour, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chung, 76, handed them wet towels to wrap around their noses and mouths so they could breathe better through the thick smoke.

He said: "They looked very scared and their faces were very pale. They also seemed to be in a panic. Luckily for them, the SCDF personnel got them out and took them down the stairs."

SCDF and police personnel evacuated residents on the 17th storey and those living directly above and below, and set up a cordon around the lifts to the block.

A swimming coach who lives across from the burnt unit said his wife, who was at home at the time, was shocked to see smoke everywhere.

The man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Ong, 34, said: "I imagine that it was a very hectic situation. They have been living here for maybe six years, and they're a simple and nice family."

Project manager Stephanie Chia, 24, who lives directly above the affected unit, said: "I was in bed when I heard people below shouting 'Help!' and 'Fire!'

"I ran down 18 flights of stairs when I realised the fire was downstairs and when there was a lot of smoke in the air."

Housewife Chonlada Chaianek, 33, who saw the fire from the opposite block, said: "I heard an explosion and the sound of window glass shattering. I called the police, opened my window and shouted at people in that block to leave their homes because of the fire."

STARTED IN BEDROOM

It is understood that the fire started in and was mainly confined to a bedroom, which had a computer. The cause of the blaze is not known.

The victim's daughter, Miss Agnes Chua, said her mother suffered first-degree burns and was taken to Singapore General Hospital.

Her nephew was taken to KK Women's and Children's Hospital and was warded overnight for observation.

Both had suffered from smoke inhalation.

Miss Chua said: "I would like to thank the SCDF and police for arriving within eight minutes to rescue my loved ones in their time of need. I really appreciate it."

cgeraldk@sph.com.sg

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