A major fire broke out in the luggage-cum-second class coach of the Chennai-Alappuzha Express at Perundurai in Erode district on Thursday early morning, destroying a part of the coach. No passengers were injured in the accident.

The Station Master at the Thottipalayam railway station noticed smoke billowing from the luggage area at the rear of the train when it passed through the station around 4 a.m. He immediately alerted the guard D. Thomas. Engine drivers were asked to stop the train at the Perundurai railway station. Meantime, railway officials alerted fire and rescue services personnel.

By the time the train reached the station, the entire luggage area of the coach was engulfed in flames. Mr. Thomas along with Assistant Sub-Inspector of Railway Protection Force K. Kasilingam helped the passengers at the differently-abled and the ladies compartments to get out of the coach immediately.

The differently-abled section in the coach had only two passengers — Mimoon, a resident of Chennai, and her son J. Maseeb Ali. “We noticed the smoke coming from the luggage area and then flames spreading fast. By the time the train came to a halt, the entire luggage area in the rear of the coach was on fire,” Ms. Mimoon said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Thomas along with the personnel in the station isolated the coach from the train. “We also tried to put out the flames using the fire extinguishers at the guard's room. But we could not control it,” Mr. Thomas told The Hindu.

Before fire fighters from Perundurai fire station arrived at the spot, flames spread to the differently abled compartment. Five fire engines from Perundurai, Erode, Bhavani and Modakurichi were pressed into service. The fire fighters managed to put out the flames after struggling for about an hour. Most of the goods kept at the luggage area at the rear of the coach were destroyed in the fire.

Salem Divisional Railway Manager Sujatha Jayaraj said that the cause of the fire was not yet known. “We have launched a detailed probe into the incident,” she said.

Several trains in the Salem-Coimbatore section were delayed for more than two hours due to the accident.

The railway officials replaced the burnt coach with another one and the train resumed after a delay of four hours.

Superintendent of Police R. Ponni and senior police officials inspected the spot.