SINGAPORE – A fire broke out in a flat in the Aljunied area on Friday morning (Aug 19) and led to 13 people being evacuated from the Housing Board block.

A statement from the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the fire at a sixth-storey unit at Block 3 Upper Aljunied Lane likely occurred due to a lit candle in the living room.

SCDF was alerted at 7.05am and extinguished the blaze using a water jet.

SCDF said three people left the block themselves before its officers arrived, while it evacuated another 10 people from nearby units.  As a precautionary measure, two people were assessed by medics, but both said there was no need to take them to hospital. 

The occupant of the affected unit, Madam Teo Bong Chee, 75, lives there alone.

The walls of  the charred three-room flat were covered in soot and piles of bags and clothes inside it reached up to the windows. There were also many spare home appliances, such as radio and fans, and stacks of newspapers. 

By noon, some 14 rubbish chutes had been filled and loaded with burnt items from the house.

Neighbours who we were helping to clear the burnt flat of debris said it was infested with cockroaches. One had to peel baby cockroaches off of his back after coming out of the flat. 

Madam Teo said she had lit a candle in the altar after exercising early in the morning and did not think that such a small flame would create so serious a fire.

“I only lit the candle for about five minutes,” she said, adding that she would be moving to her family’s house nearby in the meantime.