Panic gripped passengers at the bus station here when a cooking gas cylinder leaked and caused a fire in a fast food centre on Thursday morning.

Superintendent of Police K. Raghuram Reddy said the fire broke out in a confined eatery in the crowded bus station in the morning.

Fire controlled

The flames were immediately doused by fire service personnel much to the relief of passengers returning for work after Deepavali festivities.

Police and fire service personnel conducted a joint inspection of all the shops in the bus station to ensure that they adhere to fire safety norms, Dr. Reddy said.

17 houses destroyed

A report from Vizianagaram said fire caused by Deepavali crackers damaged 17 houses rendering an equal number of families homeless in the district on Wednesday.

According to fire officials, three houses each at Kumili and Gajularega and four at Jonnavalasa village in Vizianagaram mandal, four at Poosapatirega, two houses at Garbham and one at Mettapilli in Cheepurupalli mandal were destroyed in separate fire accidents.

According to the police, there were no casualties. The district administration has extended succour to the fire victims who lost all their belongings.