Fire blanket caused ‘loud bang’ which sparked Bluewater evacuation, leaving one injured
PUBLISHED: 08:34 23 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:34 23 October 2017
The shopping centre re-opened later that evening
The cause of a “loud bang” that sparked an evacuation at Bluewater has been revealed.
One person suffered minor injured and shoppers were said to be “running and screaming” at the Greenhithe shopping centre, according to numerous posts on social media, after two fire alarms went off just after 3.20pm on Saturday.
The alarm was triggered due to a problem with a cooking appliance at Nando’s.
A Kent Police spokesperson: “A loud bang caused many shoppers to rush to leave the building and there is a report of one person being injured.
“It is now known that the bang was caused by a fire curtain being activated and slamming to the ground.”
Eyewitnesses claimed some shoppers shouted “bomb” during the evacuation, sparking panic amongst shoppers.
One witness described the incident as “the most terrifying experience of our lives”, writing: “Sitting with kids in the food court at Bluewater when we hear the loudest bang, fire alarms start going off with an evacuation announcement over the tannoy system.
“The sheer panic on people’s faces was awful. Food thrown everywhere, shopping left everywhere, baby prams tipped over, people literally running away fearing for their lives.
“I have never seen my babies more scared in all their lives and pray they never have to feel like that again.”
A spokesperson from Secamb confirmed one ambulance was sent to the incident, but “was only at the scene for a couple of minutes”.
A Bluewater spokesperson said: “An alarm was triggered on Saturday at Bluewater due to a fault in one of the restaurants.
“The Winter Garden was temporarily evacuated while Kent Fire and Rescue investigated the alarm.
“The safety and wellbeing of our staff and guests is our highest priority.
“Bluewater’s safety and security procedures are regularly reviewed and tested.”
Kent Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it was called to the restaurant at 3.21pm, sending two fire engines to the scene, before crews realised the call was a false alarm.
Crews worked together Bluewater’s management team and Kent Police during the evacuation.
The shopping centre reopened later that evening.