On Sunday (17 Apr) evening, Kusu Island was raging.
And it wasn’t with visitors, but a massive fire.
The location of the fire appeared to be where three Malay shrines, or keramats, are located.
The island, which is managed by the Singapore Land Authority, houses three Malay shrines and a Chinese temple.
Blaze Visible from Lazarus Island
People who were on the nearby Lazarus Island said the blaze was visible at around 6.20pm.
The fire appeared to have been spreading to the area near the shrines.
Several explosions were also heard and thick smoke was spotted.
According to The Straits Times, an eyewitness said a firefighting boat arrived at around 7pm and the fire was extinguished by about 8pm, as a result of the heavy rain.
Another eyewitness said there was no crowd on the island as most visitors had left by 6.30pm.
SCDF Put Out Fire Within an Hour
In an early Monday morning Facebook post, SCDF said that its marine and land-based firefighting forces responded to the fire during a heavy downpour.
A Marine Rescue Vessel (MRV) and a Rapid Response Fire Vessel (RFV) from Brani Marine Fire Station and West Coast Marine Fire Station were dispatched.
An additional firefighting crew from Marina Bay Fire Station was also dispatched.
When SCDF arrived at the island, the fire was raging at a cluster of shrines located on top of a hill.
Firefighters laid hoses from the jetty to the top of the hill, covering a distance of about 520 meters.
Using the MRV as a water pump, the fire was extinguished with two water jets within an hour of SCDF’s arrival on the island.
There were no reported injuries, said SCDF, adding that the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Shrines Built for Pious Family
Typically between September and November, the ninth month of the lunar calendar, an annual pilgrimage to Kusu Island is held and attended by thousands of devotees.
The first stop is the Da Bo Gong Temple located closer to the pier, before climbing up 152 steps to visit the shrines of three Malay saints.
One of them is dedicated to a pious figure named Syed Abdul Rahman, while the other two are believed to belong to his mother, Nenek Ghalib, and his sister, Puteri Fatimah Shariffah.
Inscriptions at the shrines have revealed that Nenek Ghalib had visited a Straits Chinese man, Hoe Beng Whatt, in his dreams in 1917, and requested the shrines be built.
To reward him, as well as the other donors who had contributed financially to the construction of the shrines, Nenek Ghalib would bestow success upon them.
The shrines are said to have been built in the early 1920s.
The Chinese temple and Malay shrines are looked after by caretakers — a role that has been passed down the generations within families.
At the keramat, blessings by these caretakers are chanted in a mixture of Hokkien and Malay, while devotees burn joss paper and other offerings.
At both sites, devotees pray for peace, prosperity, and wealth.
The temple houses a fertility tree where written wishes can be hung, while stones are tied at the keramat, making it a popular place for childless couples.
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