SINGAPORE: It took four hours of “intensive” firefighting by 200 Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) firefighters to extinguish an enormous fire involving chemical waste and flammable materials at a waste management plant on Thursday morning (Feb 23).
At the height of the fire, a total of 38 SCDF emergency vehicles, including three Unmanned Firefighting Machines (UFM), were involved, SCDF said. One firefighter who sustained heat exhaustion during the operation was taken to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
SCDF was alerted at 6.15am to the fire, which broke out at 23 Tuas View Circuit, the address of Eco Special Waste Management.
In an update at 8.40am, SCDF said the 200m by 200m premises were “fully engulfed in flames” when its firefighters arrived.
“Periodic explosions could be heard as firefighters battle the blaze to contain it within the affected premises. SCDF is also applying foam to suppress the fire in the drains within the immediate vicinity,” it added in a later update.
By 11.21am, SCDF reported that the fire was “well under control” and that firefighters were dousing pockets of fire within the premises with foam.
After the fire was extinguished, SCDF said that damping down operations were continuing to ensure that the fire was not rekindled.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, said SCDF.
During the operation, Tuas South Ave 3 and Tuas View Crescent were closed and the public was advised to avoid the area.
When Channel NewsAsia arrived on the scene at 9.50am, there was an acrid chemical smell in the air. An extensive cordon had been established around the area extending to Tuas South Avenues 3, 7, 8 and 9, with SCDF personnel and police preventing people from getting any closer.
Marine and offshore manufacturer Pride-Chem, which is situated nearby, told Channel NewsAsia at 9.15am that the fire had been “contained” and it looked like “SCDF has it under control”. Chemicals company Framo Singapore located across the road from the fire said its staff had been evacuated to a staging area, with masks distributed as a precautionary measure.
The aftermath after the fire was extinguished. (Photo: Noor Farhan)
StarHub mobile subscribers within the immediate vicinity of the fire incident would have received an advisory message urging members of the public to stay away from the area, according to SCDF.
In a Facebook post on Thursday night, Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam hailed the work of the firefighters who were sent to put out the blaze.
He singled out the commander of the first response team, CPT Shawn Tan. “She was on duty yesterday, spent all of today firefighting and will be on duty again tomorrow,” Mr Shanmugam wrote.
“When I asked her how she felt, she said it was a meaningful job! True professional.”
He noted that other teams also helped fight the fire and that police officers worked hard to ensure public safety and manage the crowds and traffic.
“The SCDF officers were brave and resilient, putting their lives on the line,” said Mr Shanmugam, observing that the fire could easily have spread as there were lots of flammables and many other factories nearby.
Eco Special Waste Management’s plant had previously caught fire in May 2012 but the fire was contained in the incinerator and put out in 30 minutes by four fire engines, according to past reports.