Early-morning inferno at Kranji recycling company put out after 8 hours

LOW YOUJIN Today Online 22 Mar 18;

SINGAPORE – An early morning fire at a multi-material recycling and waste management company in Kranji on Thursday (Mar 22) was extinguished by firefighters more than eight hours after it started, in what is the second major industrial fire this week.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) told TODAY that the fire, which broke out at a warehouse in 11 Kranji Crescent, started at around 2.16am and was brought under control at 6.15am, before it was finally put out at 10.15am.

There were no reported casualties.

According to the website of Wah & Hua, the owners of the warehouse, the firm provides service for the collection of recyclables from small business businesses to large corporations.

When TODAY was at the scene in the morning, firefighters were seen carrying out damping down operations after the fire was put out. SCDF said this prevents any potential rekindling of fire from "hot burnt surfaces".

Speaking to TODAY, a resident of a dormitory beside the burnt warehouse said he was alerted to the incident by his roommate.

"My friend was using the toilet at around 2am when he heard a sound and saw flames from the warehouse," said Mr Suresh Kumar in Tamil.

The 25-year-old admin assistant said he and the rest of residents of the dormitory, which was occupied by 20 people, evacuated to a grass patch opposite the warehouse. They were forced to move further down the street as the smoke became thicker.

A security cordon that was set up by the SCDF stretched from the warehouse to the dormitory, and it prevented Mr Suresh from reaching his nearby workplace at Leading Bio Energy Singapore.

Throughout the fire, the SCDF kept the public abreast about the developments of the fire, starting with social media posts that were first put up at 3.11am.

"Sixteen firefighting appliances and support vehicles and about 70 personnel" responded to the fire, according to a Tweet from the SCDF.

About an hour after the SCDF's first tweet, it added that three unmanned firefighting machines had been deployed at "strategic points" together with five water jets to "surround and suppress the blaze".

While it is currently unclear what caused the fire, the SCDF said it involved "piles of waste material contained within the warehouse".

"Such fires involving piles of waste material are typically deep-seated and difficult to be extinguished quickly," it explained.

Describing the challenge of fighting the fire, the SCDF said that their personnel not only had to deal with poor visibility and air quality due to the smoke-filled room, they had to be careful of the burning zinc roof and the potential for it to collapse.

This is the second time in a week that SCDF officers had to battle a major industrial fire.

On Tuesday, a raging blaze broke out at an oil storage tank on Pulau Busing, an island off the south-western coast of Singapore.

It was finally extinguished early on Wednesday morning (March 21) after a six-hour firefighting operation. ADDITIONAL REPORTING NAJEER YUSOF

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