Bukit Batok fire: Elderly woman dies following blaze involving faulty hose reels

SCDF firefighters at a Block 210A Bukit Batok flat following a fire there on 1 November 2019. PHOTO: SCDF
SCDF firefighters at a Block 210A Bukit Batok flat following a fire there on 1 November 2019. PHOTO: SCDF

UPDATE and CORRECTION: The police issued a statement in response to media queries. This story has been updated to state that the woman died on Monday (9 December). An earlier version of the story incorrectly indicated the date of the woman’s death as Tuesday (10 December). We are sorry for the error.

SINGAPORE — A 60-year-old woman who was injured in a Bukit Batok blaze on 1 November where firemen were left without a water supply has died.

The victim, who was identified only as Madam Goh, passed away on Monday (9 December). Her family had asked for their privacy to be respected, Murali added, Bukit Batok Member of Parliament (MP) Murali Pillai said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Pillai, who is accompanying President Halimah Yacob on her five-day state visit to Germany, told The Straits Times that he is cutting his trip short in order to be with Goh’s family. The 52-year-old landed in Berlin on Monday.

Goh had been receiving treatment at Singapore General Hospital for more than a month since the fire incident. Her son also suffered smoke inhalation and burn injuries.

Pillai had earlier apologised for the incident at Block 210A Bukit Batok Street 21, where firefighters at the scene encountered padlocked hose reel cabinets. Singapore Civil Defence Force personnel had to break one of the cabinets to access the hose reel, but were unable to use it as there was no water supply.

Instead, they extinguished the fire using water from the SCDF’s emergency vehicles.

Jurong-Clementi Town Council (JCTC), which oversees municipal duties in the area, said that the cabinets had been locked in order to prevent vandalism. Following an investigation, JCTC concluded that firefighters were left without a water supply because a contractor had left the block’s pump room selector switch in the wrong mode.

It added that it is holding J. Keart Alliances Pte Ltd (JKeart), the contractor responsible for maintaining the hose reels, contractually responsible for its negligence.

On the padlocking issue, Murali said the Town Council identified two of its officers as being responsible and would pursue disciplinary action against them.

Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chief Chee Soon Juan, who ran against Murali in the 2016 Bukit Batok by-election and lost, has been openly critical of both Murali and the Town Council over the incident.

In response to media queries, the police said two men and a woman, aged between 27 and her 78, were conscious when they were conveyed to Singapore General Hospital. The 60-year-old woman later succumbed to her injuries on 9 December. Investigations are ongoing, the police added.