A big fire which erupted in a flat in the Kong Fok Cheong Garden residential estate in Areia Preta district and spread to two flats was finally extinguished Sunday night, four hours after it had broken out in the afternoon, the Fire Services Bureau (CB) said.
Five residents felt unwell after inhaling smoke during the blaze and were rushed to the hospital for examination and treatment. Firefighters evacuated about 150 residents during the blaze, which broke out shortly after 4 p.m.
The bureau said it believed that the cause of the fire was due to an electrical fault in the flat where the fire started.
Fire Services Bureau Commissioner Leong Iok Sam went to the scene to oversee the fire-fighting operation, where he told reporters that his firefighters received a report about the fire at 4:18 p.m. and arrived at the scene within four minutes.
The fire broke out in a flat on the sixth floor of Block 4 of Kong Fok Cheong Garden next to Areia Preta Park. The estate comprises eight blocks. The fire spread to an adjacent flat and a flat on the seventh floor. The fire was only brought under control at 7:30 p.m. before being finally put out at around 8:30 p.m.
19 fire engines, 110 firefighters
The bureau deployed 19 fire engines and 110 firefighters from various fire stations to battle the blaze.
Leong said that it took firefighters a lot of time to get the fire under control as when they arrived at the scene; they found that the building’s fire fighting system was dry. Therefore, firefighters needed to pump water from a water tender to the sixth floor of the building so that they could fight the fire.
Leong said that during their fire-fighting operation, firefighters found that a large number of goods were being stored in the flat where the fire erupted so that the fire in the flat quickly spread and it took firefighters a long time to fight the fire.
Leong said his bureau would investigate whether the owner of the flat was illegally using it as a warehouse and whether the goods included inflammable items. Leong also said that the Lands, Public Works and Transport (DSSOPT) would investigate whether the building’s structure has been affected by the blaze.
Leong also said that it was the first time that his bureau deployed a drone during a fire-fighting operation with the purpose of looking for any people who were possibly trapped. Leong said that the use of the drone during Sunday’s operation proved to be effective, as it allowed firefighters to clearly monitor the situation of the fire where it had erupted, as well as other flats and the rooftop.
About two dozen residents sought refuge on the building’s rooftop.
When asked whether the building’s dry fire fighting system was due to the bureau’s lack of supervision of fire prevention facilities of the city’s buildings, Leong said that there were “many reasons” that a building’s fire fighting system turns out to be dry, adding that his bureau would investigate the matter as well.
Meanwhile, the Public Security Police (PSP) said in a statement Sunday night that they deployed 110 police officers to the scene to maintain order, assist residents with their evacuation process and those in need, and carry out temporary traffic control measures around the scene.