SCDF, NEA investigating 'strong burning smell' in many parts of Singapore

SCDF, NEA investigating 'strong burning smell' in many parts of Singapore

strong smell ne singapore
A resident in Serangoon complained of a slight haze and a pungent chemical smell that "came quickly and was very strong" on Sep 25, 2017. (Photo: Channel NewsAsia reader)

SINGAPORE: Residents in many parts of Singapore - from the north-eastern areas to the west - have complained of a strong burning smell that started on Monday afternoon (Sep 25), prompting an investigation by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) and National Environment Agency (NEA).

As of 11pm, there is still no word on the source of the smell but the SCDF said in a tweet that no toxic industrial chemicals were detected in the air.

"SCDF (is) monitoring (the) situation closely," it tweeted. "There's been no confirmed incident," it said in an earlier Facebook post.

NEA said that air quality levels "were found to be well within safety limits" in the Sengkang and Punggol areas despite the strong smell.

Convergence of winds over the northern half of Singapore might have led to the "accumulation of smells" there, it said.

"Winds are expected to turn to blow from the south or south-east later tonight, which will help to disperse any smells in the area," NEA said, adding that it will continue to monitor the situation.


Residents in Sengkang, Hougang and Buangkok were among the first to report a strong smell from as early as 4.30pm, before similar complaints came in from people living in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio. They described it as a foul smell, "chemical-like" and choking. Some also reported hazy conditions in the area.

This later appeared to spread to areas in the west, including Holland and Commonwealth. 

When Channel NewsAsia arrived at Commonwealth MRT station at about 9pm, the burning smell in the air was strong. Some residents said they could not breathe normally.

Ms Alicia Zee, 44, who was returning to her home in Commonwealth, said she noticed the smell at about 7pm while she was at Holland Village.

"People were talking about it. It's making it quite hard to breathe," she said.

Another resident thought that it was the haze, but according to the NEA website, air quality was normal as at 9pm.

Sengkang resident Muhammad Zulkefly, 29, said the smell in his area started around 5pm. "It smelt like petroleum, and that was disturbing. I had trouble breathing," he said.

Another resident in Sengkang West, Ms Linda Lian, said it smelled like "burnt rubber or some unknown chemical".  

Smelly haze Buangkok
The view from Buangkok Crescent. (Photo: Angela Marie Oehlers)

In Hougang, Facebook user Maria Sariff said the smell was "very strong" and was "like plastic burning". 

"So there's this terrible smell in Buangkok area ... Fernvale also. Looks hazy and smells like oil or something, not the usual haze smell," Ms Angela Marie Oehlers told Channel NewsAsia.  

In the evening, residents in Serangoon and Ang Mo Kio started complaining of a strong smell as well.

A resident in Serangoon who only wanted to be identified as Mrs Ho said: "We were having dinner when the smell came very quickly at about 7.40pm. It was very strong. We had to close all the windows immediately." She added that the smell was gone by about 8.20pm. 

Ang Mo Kio resident Ms Chan Yoke Yee said she noticed the smell at about 7pm as she was coming out from the MRT station.

"It's giving me a headache," she told Channel NewsAsia. Like residents in Serangoon, she said that the smell was almost gone by about 8.20pm. 

Residents in the west started noticing the smell later in the evening. Ms Michelle Tng Ying, who lives in the Holland area, said she noticed a strange smell at about 8pm.

"I thought it was something burning in my own house as I had my oven turned on, but then when I stepped onto the balcony, the smell got stronger - smelt like really strong paint," the 29-year-old said.

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Source: CNA/am/ad/dl/gs/hm

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