2 fires in Marsiling on same day: Man, 72, found unconscious in toilet by SCDF dies in hospital

Michelle Chin, Zaihan Mohamed Yusof and Gracia Yap
The Straits Times
Feb 16, 2024

Two fires broke out at two flats in Marsiling Road on Feb 15. One claimed the life of a 72-year-old man, who was found unconscious by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers in a toilet and rushed to hospital, but later died from his injuries.

SCDF said it was alerted to the fire at the 10th-floor unit in Block 4 at about 2.20am. 

It said firefighters from Woodlands Fire Station forced their way into the smoke-logged home. The blaze, which involved the contents of the living room, was extinguished with a water jet.

Officers who found the unconscious man carried him out and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on him.

An ambulance crew arrived shortly thereafter and took over the resuscitation efforts with an automated external defibrillator. The man was then taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, but eventually died of his injuries.

As a precaution, the police and the SCDF evacuated about 35 people from neighbouring units.

Neighbours who spoke to The Straits Times on Feb 16 identified the victim as Mr Chan Ah Lai, whom they affectionately call “Ah Boy”. A well-liked person, he would show concern for them by asking if they had eaten.

A neighbour who lived in the same block on the 10th floor, Madam Zainah Awang, said she last spoke to him two days ago at the corridor outside their flats.

She was shocked when she saw Mr Chan being carried out of the flat.

“I saw the ambulance carrying him away and his face was blackened (because of the fire),” said the 75-year-old, who has lived in her one-room flat in Block 4 for 22 years.

Mr Chan’s next-door neighbour, Madam Laletha P. Rathnam, said Mr Chan has a 96-year-old adopted mother, who is now in a nursing home.

She said she and others on the 10th floor who were evacuated were at the void deck under the block from about 2am to 6am.

The 58-year-old said she had to buy Milo from a nearby coffee shop for her 1½-year-old grandson, who was cranky and uncomfortable because of the smoke.

Madam Laletha said many of those who were evacuated were elderly residents.

“We had to use the coffee shop toilet,” she said.

She noted that while the water supply was not disrupted, the power supply was cut off on Feb 15 from 8am to 3pm.

When ST spoke to her in the morning on Feb 16, she did not have any Internet connection.

“My prawns in the fridge became hardened (because there was no electricity),” she said.

Madam Laletha, who has lived in Block 4 for 12 years, said this is not the first fire that has happened at her block.

The second fire in the estate was at Block 3. SCDF said it was alerted to the fire at about 1pm. The fire involved the contents of a living room of a ninth-floor unit, and the blaze was extinguished before firefighters arrived.

The police and SCDF evacuated about 10 people from the block.

Mr Chanderan Mariyappan, who lives alone at the affected ninth-floor flat, was not home when the fire happened. When ST spoke to him on the morning of Feb 16, he said he had left the flat at noon on Feb 15.

The former Singapore Armed Forces mechanic said: “There was damage to my shoe rack, one (electric) fan and the wiring. My water pipe burst.”

Mr Chanderan, 66, said he has had to sleep outside his flat since the fire. He added that he has not been able to enter his flat as the authorities had padlocked his gate and front door.

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, an MP for Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC, posted on Facebook about the fires. Referring to the resident who died, he said: “We extend our deepest condolences and promise to offer our full support to the family during this difficult time.”

Another resident was affected but survived, he added.

Mr Zaqy said Marsiling grassroots volunteers were helping affected residents, including rendering financial assistance and extending aid from the North West Community Development Council’s Emergency Relief Fund.

He added: “This tragedy is a stark reminder to us all to prioritise the value of preparedness in every home and to always be vigilant in keeping our loved ones safe.”

This morning, our Marsiling community faced two separate fire incidents at Blocks 3 and 4 on Marsiling Road....

Posted by Zaqy Mohamad on Thursday, 15 February 2024


ST reported in February 2023 that more people died in fires in 2022, even though the number of fires fell from 1,844 in 2021 to 1,799 in 2022.

There were six fire deaths in 2022, up from four in 2021, said the SCDF in its annual statistics report. Half of the fatalities in 2022 were from a fire in Bedok North in May in which three people died, including a three-year-old girl and her father.

The Straits Times

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