PETALING JAYA: Employees Provident Fund (EPF) staff members at its branch in Jalan Gasing were left in some confusion when fire broke out there at noon.
Several thought the fire alarm was merely a drill.
Others, however, reported hearing explosions as they were leaving the building.
One of those who thought it was a drill was Suhaimi Herizan, who worked on the first floor of the six-storey building.
“Fire drills are conducted at least once a year. Little did I know that there was a real fire this time around, because, based on my experience over the last 18 years, there has never been such an incident so I was not drawn to think there was a real fire in the building until I saw it with my own eyes.
“Thank God, it wasn’t too late before I realised that the building was really on fire and made my exit,” he said at the scene, a look of shock still on his face.
Another EPF employee, S. Saraswathy, said she was at the ground floor inquiry counter when the fire broke out.
“I heard the fire alarm go off but thought it might be faulty... then I heard people screaming 'fire, fire, api, api' and saw them rushing out. That is when I heard a loud explosion followed by some thick, black smoke.
“I quickly grabbed my handbag and dashed out with the rest of them,” she said.
Saraswathy said while everyone was assemblying outside the building, she again heard a loud explosion but was not sure where it had come from.
Another employee, Ahmad Sharwan, 26, said the fire first started from the back portion of the building, on the first floor.
“It spread very fast. I saw the fire on the outside at first but within minutes it had started to burn up the window frames on the first floor,” he said.
Ahmad said, by then, the thick smoke had already filled the first floor.