Minutes seem like months for residents of Block 48 Stirling Road on Sunday, 22nd May 2011. Thick, black smoke billowing from the windows of #03-578 transformed the idyllic backyard of Queenstown into a battleground for the fire fighters of Alexandra Fire Station. There were desperate attempts to save the unconscious man from his apartment but to no avail. Frantic cries of "help" and "fire" startled the neighbouring followers from Masjid Mujahiddin. Let us unfold the drama of Stirling Road Blaze from first-hand interviews of 16 residents at Block 48 Stirling Road.
The affected unit that is next to the flight of stairs
At 11.10am, Nor Haini's daughter and niece were playing at the corridor in the 3rd level. Ng Hock Chye, 49, the deceased, was seen loitering along the corridor and he was carrying a bag of "yellow stuff" which emitted strong and unbearable fumes. He was believed to be sniffing glue. Frightened at the sight of a fully tattooed and burly middle-aged man, the two young girls ran inside their apartment flat to notify the adults. When Nor Haini saw Mr Ng enter his rental flat, she reluctantly allowed the girls to continue playing at the corridor.
At about 11.25am, a stream of charcoal-black smoke began to emit from the windows at the kitchen of Mr Ng's flat. A Chinese lady (who declined to be named) at the 5th-storey alerted the whole block of rental residents with her boisterous voice by shouting "Fire, fire, fire." Her loud and clear voice prompted Nor Haini's sister-in-law to came out of her flat and saw that Mr Ng's unit was burning ferociously. Without hesitation, they called the police and fire fighters using their mobile phone and evacuated from their flat to the end of the corridor.
Mdm Nor Haini's sister-in-law and the two girls who were playing along the corridor
Nor Haini's neighbour, an Indian man (who declined to be named), dashed out of his home and knocked onto the door of the burning flat. As the door was closed but not locked, he attempted to alert to occupant, that is, Mr Ng, to run for his life! However, Mr. Ng was deeply unconscious. He was deeply shocked and frightened. At this moment, the unforgiving flames were engulfing Mr. Ng's motionless body.
Mr Victor Tjin, one of the heroes who attempted to douse the flames
While residents from the block arrived at the grass patch in front of Block 48, Mr Victor Tjin, 53, the Indian man and two other brave residents of the block brought themselves with buckets of water to try and douse the ferocious flames. Nor Haini assisted the brave men by filling the buckets with water from her apartment (which was two apartments away from Mr. Ng's).
Crackles and sparkles were heard in Mr. Ng's unit. Fearing for an impending explosion, the brave men had decided to leave the firefighting to the Civil Defence team who arrived at about 11.45am. The fire was put out within 10 minutes.
The charred unit
The bedroom (entrance on the right) was where Ng Hock Chye's charred body was found
MyQueenstown Team had returned to the site of the accident today and were greeted with an unpleasant odour which appeared to have diffused to the nearby schools and blocks. The apartment was charcoal black and everything seemed to be engulfed in the flames.
Notification from Town Council
Residents have appealed to our team to request the Town Council to do maintenance checks at the building again. When contacted, Joe from Tanjong Pagar Town Council would like to inform residents that utilities supplies at most of the units have been restored and further maintenance checks will be conducted tomorrow. Repainting will be done after the insurers have assessed the damages. The SCDF has also removed all flammable items from the affected unit.
All that was left in the flat was this bicycle which Mr. Ng rode on frequently