LATEST UPDATE at 5.15pm, 17 July: The three guests hospitalised for smoke inhalation after yesterday's fire at the East Village Hotel have been discharged on Tuesday afternoon.
Hotel staff have also started to retrieve belongings from the rooms and will deliver them to the guests at Changi Village Hotel, where they were put up after the incident.
Firefighters have put out a major fire at the East Village Hotel, formerly known as Paramount Hotel, at Marine Parade.
The five-hour blaze, which started around 8.30am and is believed to have started in the basement of the hotel, sent plumes of dark smoke into the sky throughout most of the the morning.
Firefighters from the SCDF were alerted to the blaze and arrived on the scene shortly after 9am.
A total of 50 civilians had to be evacuated. Nine of these civilians - four children and five adults - were sent to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation. Two firefighters were also injured in the process - one from heat exhaustion and the second from slight burns after he tripped and fell within the building during rescue efforts. All casualties were sent to the Singapore General Hospital.
After a quick inspection, SCDF said no one was trapped inside the hotel.
By lunchtime though, most of the danger had passed and firefighters were battling to extinguish the remaining pockets of fire at the basement of the hotel, which used to be a restaurant. Large amounts of foam were used during the firefighting.
SCDF explained that construction materials, namely polystyrene boards, had caught fire, resulting in the huge plumes of smoke. It is not known how they caught fire in the first place and investigations are ongoing.
In the latest update, the SCDF has released levels two to 12. The affected area from level one to the basement of the retail annexe is under the possession of JPlan, the main contractor who is undertaking upgrading works in the retail annexe.
"The fire is believed to have started from hot works at level 1 of the retail annexe. We are cooperating with the authorities in the investigations of the cause of the incident," said Mr Jeffrey Jalleh, managing director of JPlan.
An SCDF spokesperson described the firefighting operation as "one of the more challenging fires in recent years". He added that the total operation took five hours. At one point, close to 80 SCDF fighters were battling to contain the fire.
Rescue efforts were slowed down, said the spokesperson, because of the accessibility to the basement. There is only one entry to the basement via a narrow stairway down from the first level.
In addition, a section of the basement was blocked off by an L-shaped wall that had to be broken down later in the rescue operation to eradicate all pockets of fire. The Disaster Assistance
and Rescue Team (DART) of specialists were specially called in to assist this fire operation.
Management of the East Village Hotel said in a statement that fumes from a fire in the retail annexe affected the hotel and guests and staff were safely evacuated.
Far East Organization, which owns the 250-room three-star hotel opposite Parkway Parade shopping centre, also said all guests and staff were accounted for.
"Our immediate focus is on the well-being of our guests and staff. The few guests and workers who were affected by smoke inhalation are receiving medical attention. We are arranging for alternative accommodation for guests at Changi Village Hotel and helping them to facilitate their ongoing travel arrangements," said chief operating officer Raphael Saw in a statement.
Mohammad Nazrul Islam, 32, a Bangladeshi construction worker at the hotel site, told Yahoo! Singapore that when he reported to work at around 830am, he already saw smoke from the outside. He and his fellow workers, altogether about 15 of them, said none of them worked at the hotel basement, which is believed to be where the fire started.
Jamie Ng, an assistant administration manager, told Yahoo! Singapore, "I rushed back from work because my mother-in-law lives nearby and she told me about the fire."
Her mother-in-law, Lau Mui Kheng, a retiree, said she was in her backyard doing washing when she saw the haze.
"I thought how come the sky was getting dark. By then, all the neighbours came out already," she said.