300 residents evacuated in huge Jurong West fire
BEN WONG, 53, woke up around 2am yesterday to shouts and the clanking of metal as firemen connected their hoses to hydrants.
A huge blaze had engulfed a coffee shop and wet market at Block 493, Jurong West Street 41, forcing about 300 residents from the surrounding blocks to be evacuated.
Another coffee shop at Block 494 was severely damaged, in one of the worst fires in recent years in terms of residents evacuated.
Witnesses said they heard as many as three explosions and that the fire went up to two storeys high.
The coffee shop and wet market at Block 493 were left entirely blackened with soot and ash. Only skeletal stall fronts remained.
Mr Wong, who lives on the second floor of Block 494 with his wife, said: "When I opened my main door to see what was going on, there was very thick smoke," said Mr Wong, who works in manufacturing.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said on Facebook that it was alerted to the "raging fire" at about 2.45am, and dispatched three fire engines, four red rhinos, seven support vehicles and four ambulances.
SCDF officers deployed six water jets and an aerial monitor to try to get it under control.
The fire was put out by 4.15am and its cause is being investigated.
A woman in her 60s who had breathing difficulties was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital. No other injury or illness was reported.
The structure of Block 493 remains stable, although the roof of the wet market had partially collapsed, the Building and Construction Authority said. The structural integrity of Block 494 and its upper floors are not affected, it added, although the fire had damaged the first-storey coffee shop and part of the timber roof structure, and part of the adjacent covered linkways.
Residents were later allowed to return to their homes gradually.
Retiree Tan Cheng Koy, 70, who lives with his wife and four children on the second floor of Block 494, was allowed to return home only at around 10am.
"The floor is still hot now. And the small window in my bedroom has shattered from the heat of the flames," he said.
Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng said the 36 affected stall owners in the wet market are being helped to set up stalls at an alternative site nearby.
This could be a basketball court at Block 498, he added, noting that the wet market and coffee shops will likely have to close for a while.
Additional reporting by Lee Min Kok