Man tells of attempt to save victims in fatal Bedok North fire as six residents get SCDF award

SINGAPORE – A man who lives next to a fourth-floor flat that caught fire in a Bedok North block has told of his attempt to rescue its occupants who were trapped inside.

Despite having an elderly mother who uses a wheelchair, Mr Willie Toh, 45, went to check on his neighbours when he realised their unit was ablaze.

The logistics driver said he saw a man in his 30s at a window calling for help.

“He passed me a set of keys and begged me to save him,” Mr Toh said, adding that he managed to unlock the wooden door as the blaze raged inside. The metal gate was already open.

Mr Toh said: “No one came out. I don’t know why. I inhaled some smoke and couldn’t take it any more. By then, I remembered my mother was still in our unit and I had to save her.

“I (still) feel very sad. I saw them but could not save them.”

With the help of a neighbour he did not recognise, who carried his 67-year-old mother, Mr Toh managed to leave the block safely.

The May 13 fire at Block 409 Bedok North Avenue 2 killed three people- a 56-year-old woman who died at the scene, and a man, 35, and a three-year-old toddler who died in hospital. The toddler’s mother, 34, remains in hospital.

Mr Toh was one of six residents who were lauded for helping their neighbours as they received the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Community Lifesaver Award from Mr Tan Kiat How, Minister of State for National Development and MP for the Kampong Chai Chee ward, on Sunday.

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The award is presented to members of the public whose actions involve an element of self-risk or who contributed to saving lives.

Mr Tan said: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of lives in the Bedok North fire. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones during this difficult time.

“I would like to thank the six good Samaritans for their brave actions which have prevented further loss of lives. They exemplified the kampong spirit that we are so proud of at East Coast.”


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