Singapore—Three recent fires suspected to be related to personal mobility devices (PMD) and power-assisted bicycles (PAB) are causing residents concern and worry.
On Saturday, September 14, a seventh-story apartment was rocked by a blast in a Circuit Road housing block.
A day before the fire at Circuit Road, another possible PMD fire occurred at an 11th floor unit in Block 120B, Rivervale Drive. The SCDF said that it responded to an alert at 4:10 pm on September 13, Friday.
Preliminary investigations showed that the fire started because of a PMD being charged. The owner of the flat suffered from smoke inhalation and was treated at Singapore General Hospital.
On Sunday, another fire occurred at Geylang Lorong 4, the SCDF reported. The Geylang Loro fire affected two units of a 3rd-story shophouse. Like the fire at Circuit Road, no one was injured, though 20 people were evacuated from the premises.
Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao re[prted that the fire started due to a charging PMD.
The New Paper (TNP) reports a woman living in the next floor to where the Circuit Road fire occurred, Madam Kho, who is in her 50s, who immediately fled her apartment with her sister and her teenage son, along with their pets—one dog and three turtles.
She told TNP, “I was frustrated as it was chaotic and it was tiring to evacuate.”
At 3:35 pm the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) reported to responding to a fire at an apartment on the 7th floor Block 85 Circuit Road on Saturday.
A spokesman for the SCDF said that after preliminary investigations, they discovered the source of the fire, which is electrical in nature—the battery of a power-assisted bicycle (PAB).
Luckily, there were no injuries reported from the fire. However, all residents were evacuated from the building.
Madam Kho’s neighbors and the other residents of the block said there are growing increasingly worried because of the frequency of fires related to PMDs and PABs, which has increased over the last year.
TNP reports 58-year-old Madam Kamaliah Abdul Ghani, the next-door neighbor of the unit that caught fire, as saying, “I am so scared now, more than ever, as it happened right beside me.”
She added that she did not know her neighbors well.
“PMDs themselves are not the problem but when the parts are modified, that’s where the problem lies,” said Madam kamaliah’s husband, Mohd Sari, age 57.
He was not home during the blast, but had been at work.
The SCDF says that there have been 54 incidents reported from January through June pf this year of fires related to PMDs and PABs. The incidents for the first six months of 2019 show a 125 percent increase from the same time last year.
The majority of PAB and PMD-related fires involved lithium ion batteries, and occurred while the batteries were being charged or shortly after they had been fully charged. Fires can result from faulty electrical circuitry in batteries that causes short-circuiting or overheating, and the risk of this increases with over-charging. Users of PABs or PMDs should be vigilant when charging their devices, as improper charging methods or use of unapproved equipment can endanger lives and damage property. /TISG