x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fire forces evacuation of Eid shoppers at Dubai Mall

A small fire in a restaurant at Dubai Mall prompted an announcement for shoppers to evacuate the premises.

DUBAI // Many shoppers ignored signs of fire at a shopping mall yesterday as smoke poured from a restaurant kitchen, a witness said.

“There was an emergency announcement that said smoke had been detected,” said Annabel Kantaria, who was shopping at Dubai Mall yesterday morning with her seven-year-old daughter, Maia.

“It asked us to leave by the nearest exit,” the British expatriate said. “Initially, I thought it was a fire drill, but when I went over to the ice rink area, it was full of white, hazy smoke.

“Most people ignored it. But I could smell it and I didn’t want it to get caught in my throat.”

Public announcements asked shoppers in one section of the mall to leave that area by the nearest exit after a small fire broke out shortly before midday in the kitchen of Al Hallab, a Lebanese restaurant on the second floor of the mall, sending plumes of smoke outside.

No one was injured in the fire.

Dubai Civil Defence said the fire began in the restaurant’s oven.

“It was a small fire at a small restaurant,” said a Civil Defence spokesman.

“We received a call at 11.40am. Vehicles and 20 to 25 persons were sent from Al Manara and Al Satwa fire stations. The fire was finished at 12.08pm.”

No one from the restaurant was available for comment.

Staff in the mall said the situation was back to normal after the fire was extinguished.

“There was some smoke from a restaurant,” said a salesperson at one shop. “But there are no issues now.”

An employee at another restaurant said the mall’s air conditioning had been turned off as a precaution.

“They turned it off around 12 o’clock but they have started it again now,” she said.

Emaar, which operates Dubai Mall, the world’s biggest shopping centre, said the fire was being investigated.

Yesterday’s fire was not the first event in recent months to force people to leave the mall.

In May, parking access to the Burj Khalifa and sections of the Dubai Mall was closed for a few hours after cooking gas leaked through a hole in a pipeline outside.

Emaar said there had been no incident of any leakage inside the mall, but confirmed it had occurred in the vicinity.

In March, another suspected leak forced the emergency evacuation of visitors and staff from the Reel Cinemas wing of the mall.

Police dismissed the leak as helium gas, and blamed two youngsters for emptying the gas from balloons into the cinema area.

They said the gas was harmless, despite complaints of nausea and dizziness from people who were inside the cinema.

pkannan@thenational.ae