(Source: www.straitstimes.com)

A family had to escape through their bedroom window with a five-day-old baby after an electric bicycle left charging overnight in the common corridor of an HDB block caught fire.

Singapore Civil Defence Force officers smashed the bedroom window of a second-floor unit to lead 11 people, who lived in the four-room flat, down a ladder. The baby’s parents had to risk leaving through the front door as the mother is recovering from a caesarean section.

The incident occurred at Block 231, Bukit Batok East Avenue 5, at 3.50am yesterday, the SCDF said in a Facebook post.

Four people were taken to the National University Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries. They were the baby’s parents, the infant and a woman who lives next door. They were still under observation at the hospital last night.

The baby’s 24-year-old aunt, who gave her name only as Ms Nur, said: “We woke up after 3am because we heard loud popping sounds and when we opened the door, we saw a lot of smoke.”

The family called 995 and the SCDF helped them to escape from the flat. They later returned to their flat, which needed cleaning up.

Ms Nur said: “Some parts of our ceiling and walls were blackened by the smoke, and the cables were damaged. We just got our power back around 8pm.”

The common corridor and living room of another flat were razed by the fire, which was put out with a water jet. The SCDF’s preliminary investigations showed that the fire had been caused by the overnight charging of an e-bike.

ST understands that the flat, which had its living room razed, belongs to the e-bike owner. Ms Nur said the e-bike owner usually charges the bike outside the unit.

More fires were caused by batteries of electric bicycles, personal mobility devices (PMDs) and power banks last year, the SCDF said in February. Last year, 17 fires were caused by electric bicycles, up from 14 in 2015. There were 14 fires involving PMDs, a significant increase from just one case the previous year.

Last month, an electric scooter caught fire in Sommerville Road near Braddell Heights, with sparks from the flames shooting two-storeys high. In July, an electric scooter left to charge overnight in Choa Chu Kang sparked a fire, with three people fleeing the unit.

SCDF gave the following fire safety tips on the prevention of battery fires involving personal mobility devices:

• Avoid overcharging the battery, especially leaving it to charge overnight.

• When charging such batteries, place them on hard flat surfaces to allow optimal dissipation of heat.

• Do not place the charging battery near combustible materials.

More Info: www.straitstimes.com

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