SINGAPORE – There was little hesitation when a group of hawkers at Old Airport Road Food Centre saw white smoke billowing out of a closed stall.
Several of them climbed on chairs, tables, and even the electrical boxes on the walls to battle the blaze from outside the shuttered stall.
They managed to put out the fire, which occurred at about 9.15pm on Oct 30, with dry powder fire extinguishers even before the firefighters arrived.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Mr Don Eng Tian Jun, 27, who runs a pasta stall, said: “We saw a lot of smoke and when we looked over we saw the fire was already very big, (and coming out) from above the stall.”
He added: “People climbed on top of the electrical box to spray it down.”
Mr Engand six other hawkers were on Tuesday night (Nov 30) awarded the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community First Responder Award for putting the fire out.
The other six hawkers areMr Tan Bak Yong, 63, Mr Zhu Si Jun, 47, Mr Chua Sheng Wei, 27, Mr Yong Chong Poh, 70, Mr Francis Tan, 68, and Mr Tay Swee Lim, 73.
Mr Yong told the media that he was serving customers at his prawn noodles stall when he noticed smoke coming from the nearby stall.
He broke out the fire extinguisher located on the wall outside his stall.
“The shutters were closed so there was no choice. People were standing on the chairs and tables trying to put the fire out,” said Mr Yong in Mandarin.
“At first we saw smoke but when we got a better look from above we saw the fire was quite big,” he added.
The cause of the fire is still being investigated, said SCDF.
The affected stall, which sells congee, was observed to be under renovation on Tuesday night. Two workers were spotted inside the stall tinkering with the electrical box and installing new equipment.
MP Lim Biow Chuan, in whose constituency the food centre is located, was there to present the awards to the men on Tuesday.
Speaking to the media, he said: “Some of those who reacted are not very young; they’re quite senior. But yet, when they noticed something was amiss, they took the effort.”
He added: “That’s something that we hope more people will want to do. Because it’s always good that people, of their own volition, feel that (they) have a duty to step up, to do their part to help when a situation is not so good.”