The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) managed to put out the huge fire that broke out at a Tuas waste management plant on Thursday morning after four hours of intensive firefighting. The authorities said no casualties were reported.
The incident took place at 23 Tuas View Circuit, the address of Eco Special Waste Management, and the SCDF was alerted about the fire at about 6.15 am. A total of 38 SCDF emergency vehicles, including 3 Unmanned Firefighting Machines (UFM), were dispatched to the scene in order to control the situation.
Special Waste Management is fully licensed by the National Environment Agency (NEA) as a Toxic Industrial Waste Collector, a General Waste Collector, and an Asbestos Removal Contractor, among other qualifications.
When the SCDF arrived, the waste management plant was already engulfed in flames. SCDF said one firefighter was sent to Ng Teng Fong General Hospital due to heat exhaustion during the operation. The police said the cause of the fire was under investigation.
At present, SCDF officers are damping down the site to prevent potential rekindling of fire from the hot, burnt surfaces. The authorities said the fire involved chemical waste and flammable materials. The public has been advised to stay away from the area extending to Tuas South Avenues 3,7,8 and 9.
A few eyewitnesses said the roads around the site are closed and bus services have stopped. A chemical smell prevails in the air as high plumes of thick black smoke shot up into the sky.
According to Rick Reidinger, the chief executive officer of Eco Special Waste Management, 20 workers at the plant were evacuated in time and no one was hurt.
"We are still doing an investigation as to the exact source but the important thing is that nobody is hurt," Reidinger told The Straits Times.
"About half of the plant is not damaged, so we are working (to) get it up as quickly as possible," he added.
In a Facebook post at 8.40 am, SCDF said that the area, which measured about 200m by 200m, was fully engulfed in flames when their officers arrived. Later, the police also confirmed the fire in a Facebook post saying: "The Police confirm that a case of fire has been reported at 23 Tuas View Circuit. Tuas South Ave 3 and Tuas View Crescent are closed to facilitate operations. The public is advised to avoid the area."
Several videos on social media showed the massive plume of smoke rising into the sky.
In May 2012, the Eco Special Waste Management's plant had caught fire but the fire was contained in the incinerator. According to past reports, the fire was put out in about 30 minutes by four fire engines.