Seeing Kottai Eswaran Kovil through the window of his room is a morning routine for Senthil Kannan, an Aavin milk agent and a resident of Samiyar Puthu Street abutting the temple.
He woke up at 4 a.m. on Sunday, as usual, and saw the temple through the window. A few minutes later, as he walked to grab the toothbrush, an explosion shook the localities around the temple. Mr. Kannan saw flames and smoke billowing from the road in front of the temple and rushed to the spot.
While some of the residents ran to get water in buckets to douse the fire that had engulfed a mangled car, one of them alerted the Fire and Rescue Services.
A fire tender from the Coimbatore south station reached the place in two minutes and put out the fire.
Palanisamy, 70, the security guard of a residential unit on Samiyar Puthu Street, said the explosion woke him up. “I did not know what happened and saw people running through the street. Despite having age-related difficulties, I went to the spot,” he said.
According to him, a woman, Tilaka, who sleeps in the temple compound, cried out for help.
A resident said the explosion in front of the neighbourhood temple, barricading of streets and the deployment of a posse of police, indeed, created a sense of fear among the residents who were set to celebrate Deepavali.
The Fire and Rescue Services reacted swiftly to the emergency. The Coimbatore south fire station received the emergency call at 4.06 a.m. and a fire tender reached the temple at 4.08 a.m.
A team, led by District Fire Officer P. Annadurai, station officer P. Sivaraj and additional staton officer K. Murugesan, put out the fire at 4.18 a.m.