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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Fire destroys four food stalls at East Coast Lagoon

"I want to apologise to my customers who have paid a deposit because we won't be able to fulfil those orders," she said.
Asia One - July 1, 2013
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Fire destroys four food stalls at East Coast Lagoon

Four outlets at the East Coast Lagoon hawker centre, including a well-known satay stall, were destroyed after a fire broke out on Friday morning.

The blaze, which caused tens of thousands of dollars of damage, was suspected to have been caused by wiring issues.

The four stalls included Haron Satay, one of 10 "Hawker Masters" that were chosen by food critics this year.

A security guard told The Straits Times how he saw flames shooting out of stall 56, Adiman Seafood and Satay Specialist, at 4am before spreading to stalls 54, 55 and 57. There were no injuries.

"Around 4 o'clock, I was doing my rounds when I smelled burning smoke," said the night guard, who works for a nearby restaurant and bar and wanted to be known only as Azman.

"I thought the store was on fire, but when I moved to the office side to check, I saw the fire was from the hawker centre."

The 48-year-old said he saw four teenagers nearby who told him they had called the police.

"We saw something explode, and then boom - it blew out the shutter from inside out," said Mr Azman, adding that there were smaller explosions and loud crackling as the fire spread.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call at 4.22am and dispatched two fire engines, two red rhinos and two supporting vehicles to the scene. Officers arrived within eight minutes, and the fire was extinguished in 15 minutes.

By then, most roof tiles and metal shutters had been burned, while plastic roofing had melted and stall interiors were charred.

When The Straits Times visited on Friday afternoon, cleaners in hard hats were sweeping away debris, while City Gas workers sealed gas pipes.

Electricians were also fixing the electrical box, which was left soaked from the firefighting, leaving several gazebos without light.

Mr Suradi Osman, 53, who owns Adiman Seafood, said his nephew called him at 6am to tell him what had happened.

He said SCDF officers told him the fire started because of wiring in his unit - though he claimed he had switched everything off except his freezer.

Ms Zaiton Mohamed Nor, 60, who sells a variety of dishes at stall 54, estimated that she suffered damage costing more than $20,000, but planned to claim against her fire insurance.

Mr Isnin Salim was not so fortunate. The visibly distraught 50-year-old, who runs Ahmad Spring cafe at stall 57, said he did not have fire insurance. He had installed a new $700 freezer unit just two weeks ago which was destroyed in the blaze.

"I want to cry but cannot," said Mr Isnin, his hands blackened from trying to salvage drink cartons. "I am waiting for the insurer of whichever stall started the fire."

Ms Harlina Haron, 40, of Haron Satay, said she had to throw away some 10,000 sticks of raw satay that were in the freezer.

"I want to apologise to my customers who have paid a deposit because we won't be able to fulfil those orders," she said.

Many customers who visited the centre last night were unaware there had been a fire.

Technician Mohd Fahmi Salim took his family there especially for the stall's satay, but was surprised to see police around and the area cordoned off.

"No choice lah, we have to choose an alternative," said Mr Fahmi, who tucked into satay from another stall. "I, myself, am not so fussy, but my son loves Haron satay."

The National Environment Agency said the four stalls will be closed temporarily for structural assessments.

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