The BMC has failed to prevent people from defecating in the open all over the city. Pic/ Nimesh Dave

A Powai resident and his mother-in-law had a lucky escape seconds before their car went up in flames at a toll naka in Mulund last night. Around 9 pm, toll collector Vishal Soni saw smoke emerging from the bonnet of Virendra Sharma's Swift Dzire, around 10 metres from the booth.

He saw that Sharma and Anita Shingre were unaware, and raised an alarm.

Seconds after Sharma and Shingre rushed out, the car caught fire. Two fire engines reached the spot within 15 minutes and doused the blaze. The vehicle was gutted.

Toll collector Vishal Soni
Toll collector Vishal Soni

Vijendra Waghmare, investigating officer from Navghar police station, said while the car burned, the vehicle lane at the toll booth was blocked. "We feared the fuel tank could explode. Around midnight, the car was towed away." He said had it not been for Soni's vigilance, the family could have met a tragic end.

Virendra Sharma and mother-in-law Anita Shingre

A short circuit in the car is likely to have started the fire.

Soni said he was inside a toll booth when he spotted smoke coming out of the car. "I suspected that the car had heated up and asked the passengers to get out while it cooled down. But seconds later, the vehicle caught fire."