Even as fire fighters descended within no time at Keezha Vannarapettai, the local people acted with alacrity putting in their best to control the raging blaze on Tuesday.

While on the one side harried residents came on to the roads upon noticing fire that spread rapidly, another group lost no time in drawing water from different places in buckets to put out the flames. Water was even drawn from a nearby hand pump. In their desperate effort, some even fetched water from a drain to put out the fire.

Even as fire fighting was on, a deafening blast of a cooking gas cylinder from one of the huts caused panic for a while prompting all those standing nearby scampering for cover.

Some local people immediately got into the fire fighting act once again taking positions on the roof top of a concrete building and poured water from the top.

The searing heat from blaze melted the cistern in the neighbourhood. The local people showed a remarkable presence of mind by opening the pipe of the overhead tank enabling water to pour down from top on the fire-ravaged huts below.

“It all happened in a flash after a cylinder exploded with a deafening blast in one of the thatched dwellings causing fire”, said Rajendran, a local who has been staying in the locality for several years. “People started shouting to switch off electrical mains and we all came running towards the road from getting trapped in the blaze”, said R. Nirmala who kept sobbing having lost her home.

It was really fortunate that children in that area had gone to their respective schools when the fire broke out, said Mr. Rajendran who escaped the cylinder blast.

Affected residents could not hide their emotions as they watched their homes go up in smoke.

A woman who had lost her home fainted on the road. Fire fighters who battled for over an hour dousing raging flames, said four cylinders had exploded in the fire.

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