Monday, July 16, 2012

Marine Parade fire: Seven adults, four children sent to hospital

The fire that engulfed East Village Hotel in Marine Parade on Monday morning was put out at around two in the afternoon, said Far East Organisation.

More than eight hours after they initially responded to the fire, the SCDF's tweet at 5.34pm said: "Fire fully extinguished at EastVillageHotel?. Thanks for the support and encouragement. We are still at the scene damping down the premises."

SCDF said in a statement that fire had fully engulfed an area, measuring 70m by 70m, at the basement of the front block where vast quantities of polystyrene boards and other construction materials, including flammable liquid were stored. 

This resulted in the thick black smoke and near zero visibility in the fire zone.

The spokesman said earlier that the fire was confined to the hotel, formerly called Paramount Hotel, with some 'stubborn pockets' remaining.

SCDF firefighters arrived at the scene about eight minutes after they were informed of the fire at about 9.06am.

The firefighters fought the fire with nine water and foam jets and conducted ventilation operations to disperse the thick black smoke.

The fire was confined to the basement of the front block and did not spread to the adjoining main hotel building.

Apart from visibility issues, SCDF personnel also faced "severe difficulty in gaining access to the seed of the basement fire due to the stacking of construction materials", the statement said.

Eye-witness Karen Khoo told AsiaOne that she could smell smoke this morning from her home at Roxy Square.

She said: "When I was leaving home I smelled smoke. We decided to stay home in case the smoke changes direction and causes our house to be filled with smoke."

Ms Khoo, who works in banking, observed the scene from Katong Plaza and said the smoke became thicker at around 10.30am.

From where she stood at Katong Plaza, she could see the SCDF officers at the scene of the fire. She said: "We saw firemen going round the hotel rooms from floor to floor, checking if there was anyone in the room."

At 1.10pm, SCDF reported through its Twitter account that it had been battling the blaze for four hours.

It said that when it arrived, fire had engulfed the construction area in the hotel lobby. They were fighting the fire with six water jets.

According to tweets from the SCDF at 1.40pm, they are encountering near zero visibility conditions at the East Village hotel, and operations are ongoing.

Eighty officers were at the scene and had evacuated 50 people by the time.

In a statement, Mr Raphael Saw, Chief Operating Officer of the Hospitality and Business Group at Far East Organisation, confirmed that three hotel guests and three employees were treated for smoke inhalation.

One of the hotel guests was accompanied to the hospital by her husband and four children.

While all hotel guests have been accounted for, those affected are currently under observation at the hospital, Mr Saw said.

Two SCDF firefighters were also taken to the hospital for slight burns and heat exhaustion.

According to SCDF, the four children also sustained smoke inhalation injuries. A total of 11 people were conveyed to the hospital by SCDF ambulances.

Far East Organisation said that affected areas from the basement of the retail annex to the first floor are now in possession of a contractor and not accessible to the public.

An earlier statement also said that alternative accommodation had been arranged for hotel guests at Changi Village Hotel.

Construction permit revoked, investigations in progress

In an evening statement released to the press, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said that the fire had occured at an unoccupied area of the building.

The area was undergoing Additions & Alteration (A&A) works at the time of the fire.

BCA engineers found damage done to the supporting structure in the basement level, as well as some concrete spalling on the structure of the annex building.

The construction permit for East Village Hotel has been revoked and investigations of both the annex and main buildings are being carried out, the authority said.

Construction will only resume if the site is deemed safe for A&A works to resume.

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