The fire at the Titan Himont plant was caused by two cement tanks that exploded and the fire raged for three hours.
A fire which broke out at the Titan Himont Petrochemical plant in Tanjung Langsat Industrial Complex, near the industrial town of Pasir Gudang on 24 February, has caused a heart-ache of sorts to some who live in Singapore.
A 42-second video of the blaze uploaded on YouTube of a large fireball causing a mushroom-shaped cloud to form has since gone viral.
The Johor Fire and Rescue Department said that the blaze started at about 5.15pm on Thursday (Feb 24), and that the fire was successfully extinguished around 8.30 pm.
The blaze was caused by two exploding cement tanks. Malaysian Police said that there were no fatalities from the fire. Two workers, however, suffered burns on their hands while one victim suffered a broken left leg after trying to save his life by jumping out of the building. All of the victims are receiving further care and treatment in Johor hospitals.
The huge blast and the mushroom-cloud which formed after the explosion was viewable all the way in Singapore. Alarmed by the blaze, some local residents said they called emergency services in Singapore.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received numerous calls about a major fire incident which occurred to the north-east of Singapore on Thursday afternoon. It said: “Upon investigation, SCDF confirms that there is no major fire incident happening locally within Singapore.”
Residents from Pasir Ris and Punggol shared the video of the fireball in their social media chat groups. Some said that there were worried that the fumes from the explosion at the chemical factory will reach Singapore and affect the air quality here.
Residents of Punggol, Sengkang, Buangkok and Pasir Ris have long complained of toxic air pollution in their neighbourhood. The air pollution may be traced to the exhaust fumes rising from Pasir Gudang – a petro-chemical industrial complex about a quarter the size of Singapore, running 24/7 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.
Accounts of a strange smell in the air and charcoal-black particles floating in the air in these eastern neighbourhoods have been openly recounted for several years now. Residents have complained of a pungent, chemical-like odor that smells like burning plastic or petroleum and so much charcoal particles accumulating on their floors that they are forced to clean their floors more frequently than usual.
This issue is so pressing that it has been pointed out since at least 2007, and yet the odour and particles persist.