Jurong East residents have to remove clutter from stairwell to escape fire, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Jurong East residents have to remove clutter from stairwell to escape fire

An unattended candle may have caused a blaze that engulfed a Housing Board flat in Jurong East early in the morning on Feb 18.

Two people evacuated themselves from the affected flat, in Block 287A Jurong East Street 21, while one person was taken to Singapore General Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Mr Liu Yiming told Chinese-language daily Lianhe Zaobao that his elderly mother had lit prayer candles on the balcony of the flat on the night of Feb 17, and did not wait for them to burn out before going to bed. The 55-year-old engineer believes that the candles had lit up some nearby cardboard items, starting the fire.

There were hoarded items lining the corridor from the affected unit to the stairwell, according to the Zaobao report.

A neighbour told Zaobao that the elderly woman initially stored her things in her own home, but had started cluttering up the stairwell in the last six years.

As the woman was trying to earn some money from selling the items, the neighbours did not file complaints against her, the 60-year-old educator said.

The neighbour added that the two households that would need to use the stairwell during emergencies were getting worried, as the clutter kept building up.

Other neighbours said the town council had tried to clear the hoarded items before, but the stash would continue accumulating nevertheless.

When the fire broke out, neighbours from other floors helped to clear the stairwell so that residents on the affected storey could be evacuated.

The 60-year-old neighbour said her family members were asleep when it happened, and they had to carry her aged mother downstairs.

In a Facebook post on Feb 18, the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the fire at about 1.50am, and used two water jets to extinguish it. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

SCDF said household fires are commonly caused by unattended cooking, electrical items, or lighted materials such as candles and incense that are left unattended.