"Your house is on fire."
Those were the first words he heard when Mr Syed Ibrahim Ahamed Hussain got a phone call from his frantic neighbour on Wednesday night.
"I was at my stall at the coffee shop across the road when she (the neighbour from the same floor) called," said the 52-year-old, who is self-employed.
"Luckily, no one was at home at the time."
Mr Syed Ibrahim immediately rushed to his flat, which is about a five-minute walk from his stall.
He said: "When I arrived at my flat, the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) personnel had broken down my door as they feared someone was inside.
"The smoke had seeped through openings, and portions of my wall and ceiling were blackened with soot."
The neighbour, who did not want to be identified, is Mr Syed Ibrahim's relative.
She said: "My mum was cooking when it happened. We could smell the fumes and see the wires on the ceiling falling off."
"We could hear bursts of sound as the fire consumed a couch. We were afraid that it might explode," she added.
Her sister subsequently called the SCDF and Mr Syed Ibrahim.
The SCDF confirmed that they had received a call at around 8.57pm on Wednesday about a case of discarded items on fire on the second floor of Block 96, Henderson Road.
More than 75 per cent of the building's occupants have moved out, as it is involved in sale under the Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme.
Dumping site The fire occurred near Mr Syed Ibrahim's corner unit. The area had become a dumping site for residents who had been relocated to a residential area in Kim Tian near Tiong Bahru.
An SCDF spokesman said that they despatched one fire engine, one red rhino, one support vehicle and an ambulance.
The fire was extinguished by one water jet and fire extinguishers within 10 to 12 minutes.No injuries were reported.
This was apparently not the first time that a fire had happened there.
On April 21, a section of the ground floor where outgoing residents had dumped their rubbish caught fire.
"If it had happened maybe once, I might have considered it a coincidence. But two times? Maybe not," said Mr Syed Ibrahim's neighbour.
"If there is a next time, we might not be so lucky."
This article was first published in The New Paper.