Norwich’s Castle Mall and Vue Cinema were evacuated on Tuesday (June 7th), after a suspected fire broke out in the building.
Four fire vehicles and 20 firefighters, along with three paramedic rapid response vehicles and two unmarked police cars were in attendance to deal with the incident which is believed to have begun after a compressor overheated in the Mall’s plant room, filling the area with smoke and triggering the alarm system.
The building was initially evacuated at around 12.50pm, and in the lunchtime rush, many employees and customers believed the fire to have started in the building’s third floor food court, however, this speculation was quickly rectified by the emergency services.
As well as the evacuation, a large cordon was erected in the city centre, around the car park and Farmer’s Avenue. Many motorists had to wait until late Tuesday afternoon to recover their vehicles, meaning that some missed the daily school run.
The Norfolk Fire Service group commander, Greg Peston, was satisfied with the operation, but reassured the public on Tuesday afternoon that the emergency services would remain present until safety was assured. “We do not expect to be here long, but unless we have cleared all of the smoke out of the centre, then we cannot confirm that the fire is completely out”.
Castle Mall management were quick to thank the emergency services and customers for their quick response and co-operation. “A compressor overheated and smoke from it caused the fire alarm to activate. Norfolk fire service attended quickly and requested a full evacuation of Castle Mall. All of our customers and around 250 retail staff were evacuated safely and promptly by 13.10. Norfolk Fire Service were marvellous and there was very little damage following the incident. We would like to thank the service for their swift attendance and for dealing with the situation. We would also like to thank our shoppers for their co-operation and patience”.
Peston believed that the success of the operation was down to the comprehensive evacuation and emergency procedures in place at the Mall: “They have really robust evacuation procedures here, which worked really well”. Castle Mall reopened at around 14.10.