Telok Blangah Resident Sets Mattress On Fire To Kill ‘Bedbugs’, Helper Dies Of Smoke Inhalation

Telok Blangah Resident With Bipolar Disorder Sets Mattress On Fire To Kill Bedbugs

Last January, a fire broke out in a Telok Blangah flat, causing the death of a helper staying upstairs. Even though it’s unclear how the fire came about, there were talks that the blaze started as a prank.

Helper Allegedly Passes Away In Telok Blangah HDB Fire, Employer Seeks Funds For Repatriation

About 1.5 years after the tragedy, more details have come to light.

On Wednesday (16 Aug), Chia Gek Yong admitted to committing the rash act of setting his mattress on fire, which led to the helper’s demise.

Source: Singapore Civil Defence Force on Facebook

Chia had reportedly set the mattress on fire to exterminate “bedbugs”. The fire eventually spread after he failed to extinguish it.

Telok Blangah resident sets fire to mattress to kill “bedbugs”

According to The Straits Times (ST), Chia, 73, suddenly woke up from his slumber at about 4am in his 10th-storey flat on 29 Jan 2022.

He somehow believed that he saw bedbugs and proceeded to spray cans of insecticide on his mattress.

Despite doing so, he believed the bedbugs were still alive. Chia proceeded to set the mattress on fire.

The blaze eventually spread, and the elderly man tried dousing the flame with several water bottles, reported Shin Min Daily News.

After his attempts at extinguishing the fire failed, Chia left the flat, leaving four occupants behind.

Thankfully, all four were awoken by the smell of the smoke and managed to escape.

Helper in units upstairs died from smoke inhalation

Even though the occupants of the 10th-floor unit managed to escape relatively unscathed, that wasn’t the case for other residents of the block.

Source: Singapore Civil Defence Force on Facebook

As the fire raged on, the smoke grew thicker and infiltrated the unit above.

SCDF officers later forced entry into the flat and found 48-year-old Koimatun Achmad Ali unconscious.

The helper was assessed to have breathing difficulties at the time and was rushed to the hospital. However, she died later that night due to smoke inhalation.

helper telok blangah fire

Image courtesy of Kevin Ho

Resident’s bipolar disorder reportedly relapsed during incident

On Wednesday (16 Aug), Chia pleaded guilty to the rash act of setting the mattress on fire, causing Ms Koimatun’s death.

ST reported that the 73-year-old had a history of bipolar disorder and suffered a relapse during the incident.

Due to his condition, Chia experienced symptoms like heightened energy levels and hallucinations.

The elderly man will be assessed on his suitability for a mandatory treatment order.

His sentencing is expected to take place in September.

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Featured image adapted from Singapore Civil Defence Force on Facebook and Kevin Ho. 

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