Singapore: Elderly woman dies in kitchen flash fire

An elderly woman in Singapore met with a fatal accident while lighting her gas stove due to the accumulation of town gas in the kitchen and thinner in her clothes.

Firefighter demonstrates the incorrect method of putting out a stovetop fire with water.
Picture for representation. Reuters

An elderly woman met with a tragic accident when she lit the gas burner after cleaning her stove with thinner.

93-year-old Madam Owe Yong Ah Fong lived with her granddaughter, who found her body around 7 pm and summoned the paramedics. The grandmother was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later, as reported by The Straits Times.

Madam Owe Yong habitually cleaned her gas stove with thinner and used a spark gun to light her gas burner. She also kept her windows closed to avoid pests.

On Friday, September 29, a flash fire broke out when Madam Owe Yong lit the spark gun, due to the accumulation of town gas in the kitchen caused by a few seconds' delay in lighting the stove. In the inquest of her death, State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled her death as a "tragic misadventure."

Bay added that the flash fire had caused severe burns on her body as the town gas had been consumed along with the thinner vapour "which had likely impregnated her clothing during her cleaning chores".

"There is no evidence to suggest that the gas stove was faulty, and the accumulation of town gas was likely due to a delay on Madam Owe Yong's part in using the spark gun to effect ignition after some time had elapsed from her turning on the gas burner," he further stated.

Madam Owe Yong's autopsy report revealed that she had suffered 75 percent burns on her body, as well as smoke inhalation and soot accumulation in her upper airways, oral cavity, food pipe, and stomach.

Bay took time during the inquest to warn people against careless usage of gas stoves. He also urged them to keep houses properly ventilated.

"Be sure to light the stove immediately after turning the gas on, and if ignition does not take place, to immediately turn the gas off. An explosion can occur by a delay of more than a few seconds, due to the rapid accumulation of gases. Even minor gas explosions can seriously injure someone who is standing close to the stove," he concluded.