SINGAPORE: A fire engulfed an HDB flat in Bedok North Road on Wednesday (Mar 6) afternoon, forcing the evacuation of about 50 residents.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said they were alerted to a fire on the 18th storey of 180 Bedok North Road at about 1.20pm.
The fire had engulfed the entire unit due to the "vast accumulation of combustible items" within the flat, they said in a Facebook post.
Donning breathing apparatus, firefighters had to force their way into the unit, SCDF said.
Their movement within the unit were impeded as they had to "carefully manoeuvre over the heaps of items".
The fire was eventually extinguished with two water jets and two compressed air foam backpacks.
When Channel NewsAsia arrived at the scene at about 3pm, the fire looked to have been put out, although firefighters were still dousing the blackened unit with water.
One 18th-floor resident, who did not want to be named, told Channel NewsAsia she was alone at home at about 1.30pm when officers knocked on her door and asked her to evacuate. She said she had smelled the fumes, but thought it was haze.
As she made her way down to the ground floor, she witnessed a window at the burning unit shatter and objects fly out.
"We don't know what started the fire, but according to the officer, no one was at home," added the woman, who is in her 30s and works in human resource.
When asked if she was worried about her home being affected by the flames, she said: "Of course. You should ask the guy living above. His house turned black already."
In all, about 50 people from the 16th to 20th storeys of the block were forced to evacuate.
At the void deck, large crowds had gathered, including the elderly in wheelchairs and children in school uniform. Police officers stood guard in the area around the affected block, which had been cordoned off with police tape.
As the smell of smoke lingered in the air, at least two fire engines and one ambulance were on scene, while firefighters and paramedics could be seen at the lift landing of the block.
A woman carrying a toddler looked concerned as she asked an SCDF officer when she would be able to return home.
SCDF said there were no reported injuries, and that they are investigating the cause of the fire.
"Excessive accumulation of combustible items, even within the unit, can block escape paths and hinder firefighting efforts," said the SCDF.
"Residents are urged not to accumulate old newspapers, furniture and clothes within their units as these can fuel a fire causing serious damage and may even be life threatening."