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SCDF to assess if more measures needed after fire reignited in Jurong East flat where resident was killed

The firefighting and damping down operation in a Jurong East flat were challenging as it contained a large volume of debris that was closely packed together from wall to wall, SCDF said.

SCDF to assess if more measures needed after fire reignited in Jurong East flat where resident was killed

A fire broke out in a flat at Block 236, Jurong East St 21 on Aug 16, 2022. SCDF later said there was a large volume of debris closely packed from wall to wall. (Photo: SCDF)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) will assess if additional measures are needed after a fire reignited at a Jurong East flat where a man died in a blaze. 

A resident was killed after a fire broke out on Aug 16 in a flat at Block 236, Jurong East Street 21. About a day later, a fire reignited in the master bedroom of the same flat despite firefighters carrying out a damping down operation.

In response to CNA's queries, an SCDF spokesperson said on Monday (Aug 22) that rekindled fires are uncommon.

"Notwithstanding this, the firefighting and damping down operation for this incident was very challenging as the entire unit contained a large volume of debris that was closely packed together from wall to wall," the spokesperson said.

"The safety of residents is of paramount importance for the SCDF."

As part of a post-fire incident review, it will assess if more measures are needed for similar fire incidents in the future, while preserving the scene as intact as possible for an investigation.

THERMAL IMAGING CAMERAS USED

A damping down operation that lasted about eight hours was carried out after the fire was extinguished. This was assessed to be necessary “while balancing the need to preserve the scene for fire investigation”, the spokesperson said. 

Throughout the damping down, two thermal imaging cameras were used to search for heat spots and guide the firefighters to target the water jets at the affected areas. 

"This strategy was necessary to avoid causing additional damage due to the excessive use of water which would also affect fire investigation," said the spokesperson.

The process of investigating the fire required a systematic and methodical removal of the layers of debris from the flat.

This "careful and tedious process" is crucial to prevent the destruction of vital evidence to enable investigators to identify and analyse fire patterns, the spokesperson added.

Fire patterns help investigators determine the origin of the fire. The evidence collected at the scene will be sent for laboratory analysis to determine the probable cause of the fire, the SCDF spokesperson said. 

NO HEAT SPOTS DETECTED

At about 5pm on Aug 16, thermal imaging cameras showed that the temperature of the debris had reached normal ambient temperature levels and no heat spots were detected, the spokesperson said.

The firefighters returned to their respective units to replenish and prepare themselves for other emergencies, the spokesperson added. 

At about 8pm that evening, SCDF fire investigators decided that the scene investigation would resume the following morning, in the daylight.

"This was necessary to avoid missing any crucial fire evidence or inadvertently damaging the evidence," the spokesperson said.

"Safety was also a concern as working among the debris, even with spotlights, would present a safety risk to the fire investigators. At the time when the fire investigators left the unit, there was no sign of smoke or fire." 

The next day, at about 5am, SCDF was alerted to a fire in the same flat. A small localised fire in the master bedroom was extinguished by firefighters. 

The SCDF spokesperson said the cause of the fire was likely due to deep seated embers that were not detected by the thermal imaging cameras. 

Since then, the force has worked closely with the town council to remove debris from the unit.

There were 480 residential fires in both private and public homes in the first six months of this year, compared to 513 residential fires in the first six months of 2021, SCDF said.

Source: CNA/ja(mi)
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