A fire that evacuated hundreds of shoppers and workers at the Westmount Centre shopping mall yesterday afternoon could a have been much worse, said the city’s deputy fire chief.

“It could have been worse, but it didn’t turn out to be a big threat,” said Deputy fire Chief Jan Haak.

“No one was hurt.”

Haak said the fire originated in the ceiling area in a Shoppers Drug Mart at the mall near Groat Road and 111 Avenue sometime after 12 p.m.

Smoke forced fire crews to evacuate hundreds of shoppers from the mall, but fire officials did let people back in later in the day. The north portion of the mall did remain closed for most of the day.

“At first, I didn’t notice anything until I saw smoke filling up the entire mall and then the fire alarms rang,” said 18-year-old Brad Scudder who was eating lunch in the mall’s food court.

“Fire fighters rushed in and then they rushed us all out.”

Fire crews were able to contain the fire to the ceiling area, however there was major water and smoke damage to businesses near the Shoppers Drug Mart.

Fire department officials later said in a release the cause of the blaze was a surge of electricity which ignited combustible materials in the ceiling area. Damage is estimated at $1 million.

Latest From ...