Heroic friends who put out KPE taxi blaze: We thought only of our fellow motorists
A taxi had exploded into angry flames in the Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE) tunnel on Tuesday evening, but that did not stop two friends from jumping in to help put out the fire.
Mr Mohamad Fuad Abdul Aziz and Mr Syed Abdillah Alhabshee have been hailed as heroes after their bravery was highlighted on social media.
"We saw thick smoke and heard an explosion, and then saw a red taxi that was on fire," Mr Syed Abdillah, 37, told The Straits Times yesterday.
"We did not think of the danger - only of the safety of our fellow motorists," added Mr Fuad, 36.
Mr Fuad, an emergency responder who works as a training manager for Medlink Services, said they were driving in the tunnel at around 6.50pm when they heard an explosion.
Mr Syed Abdillah, who owns First Medic Training and Ambulance Services, said that as the taxi was straddling the left and middle lane, they stopped the ambulance they were in and turned on hazard lights to help close off that lane from traffic.
They walked forward and saw the front portion of a Transcab taxi in flames.
A van with about six to seven Gurkha officers also stopped.
With two officers, Mr Fuad took a fire extinguisher from the tunnel and attempted to douse the flames but was unsuccessful as the tunnel was too windy.
Mr Fuad and Mr Syed Abdillah then grabbed a hosereel and put out the blaze in about 10 minutes.
They were assisted by the Gurkhas and another motorist, who helped lay out the hose.
"Others were screaming and shouting to get out of the way. They were worried the taxi would explode," said Mr Syed Abdillah.
There was a second explosion as the duo were fighting the fire.
The two men put out the fire before the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) arrived.
They left around 7.30pm.
"As we are used to emergency situations, lending a helping hand was almost second nature to us," said Mr Fuad.
"We are just glad that there were no casualties."
SCDF said the fire involved the taxi's engine compartment.
The driver escaped unhurt.
The incident caused a huge traffic jam during peak hour.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said they had made a series of clear announcements shortly after they were alerted to the incident.
But drivers have said that the different announcements made on various platforms were confusing and could have been given faster.
An LTA announcement made through the tunnel's announcement system and radio instructed drivers to drive out of the tunnel via the nearest exist, or to leave their vehicles and evacuate through the nearest emergency exit. - ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SHAYNA TOH