Woodlands flat fire: 'I thought they would jump'

Desperate, two people balanced precariously on their window ledge as they screamed for help yesterday at 3am.

Thick smoke and angry flames shot out of the windows of the study room of their sixth-storey flat as they clung onto window panes outside a bedroom.

Residents in the vicinity of Woodlands Crescent Block 788E could only look on in horror. And hope the pair would not jump.

"I saw them stand on the ledge and immediately shielded my children's eyes," said Mrs Theng, a resident of the same block who watched the drama unfold with her husband and two young children, aged nine and 11.

"I thought they were going to jump and I didn't want them (my kids) to see that," she added.

Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) personnel set up an airbag on the ground to catch the duo if they had to jump.

And around them, about 150 residents who had been evacuated from the block, watched the drama unfold.

For about 30 minutes, residents heard Mr Jack Tan, 23, cry "My father! My father!" while standing on the ledge, gesturing to the crowd that his dad, Mr William Tan, 57, was still inside the flat.

The senior Mr Tan was later found unconscious in the toilet by rescuers. He died in hospital.

It was his wife, Madam Zhang Xiuwen, 58, who had stood beside his son on the ledge.

The younger Mr Tan told reporters that he had woken up to the smell of smoke that night. He went to the study room to check what happened and saw that it was on fire.

The fire had also spread to the living room, blocking off access to the main door, reported Shin Min Daily News.

The younger Mr Tan recounted: "After I woke my parents up, my mother and I went into the bedroom (furthest from the fire). My father went to the living room instead to try to fight the fire, but he never came back."

SHOUTED FOR HELP

In the bedroom, mother and son opened the windows and shouted for help. They then climbed onto the window ledge.

An SCDF spokesman said two fire engines, two Red Rhinos, two ambulances and four supporting vehicles were sent to the scene.

The fire in the unit involved the contents in the living and study rooms. SCDF personnel extinguished the fire within 20 minutes.

Firefighters then found Mr William Tan unconscious in the toilet, and rescued his wife and his son from the window ledge, the spokesman added.

Madam Zhang was taken to Singapore General Hospital, while her son was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH).

Both were treated for smoke inhalation and were later discharged. The senior Mr Tan was also taken to KTPH unconscious.

When approached by The New Paper, Mr Tan confirmed that his father, an electrician, had died. He added: "We're now living with another relative. We're in a big rush now and have to prepare for (my father's) funeral."


This article was first published on June 11, 2014.
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