Three persons, including a policeman, were killed and five others injured when a gas cylinder exploded as a result of a fire in a tea shop at Sivakasi, 60 km from Madurai.
Head Constable Govindaraj (40) of Sivakasi East police station was trying to help the fire service personnel to put out the fire when the gas cylinder inside the shop exploded killing him on the spot, police said.
Two onlookers Periasamy (23) and Selvaraj (19) also died on the spot.
The injured persons were taken to the government hospital at Sivakasi and later shifted to Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai.
The reason for the fire was not known immediately. The shop was not open when it caught fire. A case has been registered in this regard, police said.