There was no time (and no life) to lose. I had to get out before the flames swallowed me alive. The stove had exploded into a large ball of fire. The entire kitchen was engulfed in thick black smoke in a matter of seconds.
Remembering what I had learned in the Singapore Civil Defence course, I went down on all fours. I took a deep breath and began crawling my way towards the main door. I was already tearing badly as the stinging smoke infiltrated every part of my face. I also started choking in the throat.
It was horrible. I never expected the fire to spread so fast. I could not see anything, and the heat around me was almost unbearable. I knew I had to reach for the door fast, but I was weakened significantly. All I could do was to grope around, struggling with intermittent coughs.
A few seconds later, I touched the wooden door. However, the fire had caught up with me from behind. I wrapped my hand round the door knob in panic. Instantaneously, I felt a searing pain in that hand. The knob was scorching hot! I yelled in agony as I fell to the ground holding my scalded hand.
It had become a do-or-die mission. I suppressed the pain and got up quickly. I yanked my T-shirt off my body and wrapped it round the door knob with my two hands. I managed to open the door and scramble out of the flat.
Then I sprawled on the ground, just two steps away from my burning home. Exhausted, excruciated and almost “expired”. I could hear an explosion in the flat. As I lifted my head slowly, my vision was barely clear. I did see some firemen running towards me before I passed out.
When I came to, I was lying in a hospital bed. Daddy and Mummy were overjoyed to see me awakening. They were both in tears. I could not utter a word. I had little strength.
“It’s alright, Honey. You don’t have to talk now. You just rest. We are with you,” Mummy spoke in between sobs. Daddy placed his hand on my forehead and smiled. I was relieved that the ordeal was over. There were some niggling questions in my head about the cause of the fire, but at that moment, I just wanted to sleep a little while more. I would have my answers later. I shut my eyes.