SINGAPORE: An Indonesian restaurant Warung Surabaya on the second floor of Lucky Plaza was the centre of attention after the building’s fire alarms went off at around 1 pm.
The cause of the fire may have been unclear, but it started in the restaurant’s kitchen. The blaze affected the ventilation ducts and destroyed properties worth thousands of dollars.
A witness account of events indicates that the fire began at the kitchen’s exhaust fan, and at that time of the incident there were at least 40 patrons and customers inside. The 40-year-old, who identified himself as Mr. Soh, said that he expected his boss, who’s the manager of the place, would reopen in the weekend.
“The fire alert went off at about 1:15 pm,” said Jana Loh, an eyewitness at the scene. “However, an announcement through the mall’s public address system said everything was under control,” she continued.
It is the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) that upon arriving told members of the public to evacuate the building through the stairs.
While there were no screams as shoppers left the building, the scene was very crowded and characterized by thick smoke and chaos as the mall’s management try to move all shoppers to safety. This statement is according to Mr. Eric Tumewu, a 31-year general manager at Koolook optical shop in the plaza.
The incident was captured by social media, with people tweeting and posting about it.
The efforts of putting out the fire caused puddles on the first floor of the mall, but at 3 pm the police declared the building safe for members of the public.
Shop owners counting losses
Many shops adjacent to Warung Surabaya were adversely affected by the fire with losses amounting to thousands of dollars.
Computers at Singapore Sharing Travel had its computers damaged, and the carpet was damp with water. The manager at the travel agency, the 26-year old Mr. Wei Zhen, estimated the losses his shop suffered are in the range of S$4,000 to S$5,000”.
Also, Boon Chai Jewelry, a jewel store opposite the eatery, had its merchandise on the floor damaged by the water. Among the items destroyed include boxes of Rolex wristwatch. With such a watch going for S$200, the jeweler, Mr. Tan Boon Chai, 49, said his losses would sum up to thousands of dollars.
Mr. Tan’s account of events is, however, different as far as the timing is concerned. He said he smelled smoke as early as 12.30. The smoke became so thick that it became hard to breathe.
According to the SCDF, it sent two fire engines, an ambulance, five support vehicles and two red rhinos to the scene upon receiving a call at 1:10 from a person who had reportedly spotted smoke come from the level 2 of the shopping centre.
The Lucky Plaza could be lucky after all; in all that state of confusion, there were no single causality or injury reported.