State Coroner Kamala Ponnampalam stated after conducting an inquiry on Thursday, May 30 that an 83-year-old wheelchair bound woman, who was living in a Bukit Panjang flat had died of smoke and fume inhalation which was caused by a fire incident.
As per the inquiry, the fire had been sparked by embers from a lit joss stick and as per Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the flames spread through a nearby cardboard box, newspapers and towels.
The wheelchair-bound victim, Lim Mang Yin, who also had dementia, was not able to evacuate on her own after the fire broke out and died because of smoke and fume inhalation.
Reports stated that the deceased moved to her daughter's home in Block 165 Gangsa Road just two weeks before the accident.
On November 30, 2019, her younger daughter smelt a cigarette smoke which was coming from their neighbour's home. To get rid of the smell, she relit two joss sticks and placed one of them between a stack of papers on a table, next to the television set and the other one on top of the cardboard box.
While the older daughter was at work, the younger one went to buy lunch with the television and fan on the living room switched on, the main door open and all the windows of that room closed. When she returned, she found the fire in her flat. SCDF officials arrived at the location and almost after 20 minutes they controlled the blaze.
The officials found the body of the elderly woman in the living room, where she was resting and pronounced her dead. Even though the family could not identify the body of the woman, the DNA results had confirmed her identity. The investigation also revealed that the woman suffered burns over 95 per cent of her body.
After the completion of this investigation, Lieutenant-Colonel Dannies Ang Weitong gave safety tips to people about burning religious items near flammable objects. He advised that items like incense paper, candles and joss sticks should be placed on the sturdy ground and at a safe distance from flammable items such as newspapers, furniture and plastic.
People should check the house before leaving for a while and a small fire extinguisher should be placed in homes to put out the fire, he advised.