10 Facts about The Chinatown Point Fire You Should Know


An escalator caught fire in Chinatown last weekend, and shoppers were unimpressed. Most witnesses reported seeing only a large amount of smoke, and no actual fire, which threw the idiom into suspicion. Luckily, business went back to usual after only a short 45 mins due to the speedy response.

Here are 10 facts on the incident, so you can pretend your weekend was exciting.

1. Details of the Fire

The fire happened on the 5th of March, Sunday, in Chinatown Point. A Schindler brand escalator running from the third to the fourth floor caught fire, resulting in a copious amount of smoke.

2. Possible Cause

According to preliminary investigations by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the third-floor escalator landing electrical wiring was burnt. Presumably, a fault of some sort had developed in the motor there, as the wiring belonged to the motor.

3. Casualties

There were fortunately no casualties and no injuries, as all the shoppers within the vicinity moved away rather quickly when they noticed something wrong. The resulting commotion kept others from venturing too close, though many began taking photos or videos (because #Singapore).

4. SCDF Response

The SCDF dispatched two fire engines, two red rhinos and two support vehicles to the scene. The fire was estimated to start around 3:00 p.m., and the SCDF arrived at 3.05 p.m. The swift response is definitely commendable. The fire was eventually put out using a water jet.

5. Evacuation

200 shoppers and mall workers were evacuated from Chinatown Point shortly after the SCDF arrived. Prior to the evacuation, many shoppers were not even aware of the incident, and some were happily enjoying a meal.

6. Fire Alarm

The shoppers’ ignorance was largely due to a problem with the fire alarm system. When smoke billowed from the escalator, the fire alarm was not tripped, and no announcement or alarm of any sort sounded. One shopper even tried to manually activate the fire alarm to no avail. In other words, it was a fire without a fire alarm.

And to think that there’re usually fire alarms when there’s no fire.

7. Hero Shopper

An as yet unnamed shopper rushed to the fire with an extinguisher before any firefighters arrived at the scene. According to witnesses, this man managed to dampen the fire, and possibly prevent the fire from spreading, though the acrid smell of burnt escalator lingered.

8. Past Inspections

A spokesperson of Perennial Real Estate, which manages Chinatown Point, has said that all escalators are serviced monthly, and the escalator involved last underwent maintenance on 15 February 2017. The fire alarm was also last tested on 22 February 2017.


9. Aftermath

Regular business resumed shortly after, at around 3.45pm. The affected escalator had been put out of service and blocked off, and signage has been put up by management to inform shoppers of the out-of-service escalator. That’s really fast, isn’t it?

10. Past Incidents

Escalator fires have happened before. Back in 2012, an escalator in Toa Payoh MRT Station caught fire. The escalator was quickly cordoned off, and station staff had extinguished the fire before the SCDF arrived at the scene.

Perennial Real Estate and Schindler are jointly investigating the incident, to identify the issues with both the escalator and the fire alarm system.

It is heartening to see that staff are well-trained to combat fires, and heartening to see there is at least one Singaporean who would leap in and do what is right.

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Featured Image: straitstimes.com & channelnewsasia.com

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