BLUEFIELD – Three volunteer fire departments were dispatched Tuesday when a fire alarm sounded at a large Mercer Mall store.
The Hobby Lobby outlet was evacuated at approximately 2:45 p.m. when a fire alarm was activated.
Capt. David Thompson Jr. of the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department said later that firefighters saw smoke inside the store when they arrived on the scene.
“What we got here today was an alarm with an activated sprinkler here at the Hobby Lobby at the Mercer Mall,” Thompson said as the firefighters prepared to leave. “Basically when we arrived on the scene we had a white haze of smoke within the building itself.”
The source of the incident could have been the building’s HVAC (heating ventilating and air conditioning) system, Thompson said. The system was new and might have “burned off the purification stuff on it,” he stated.
“We did have a sprinkler activate and we had pretty decent water damage within the building. “There were no injuries, firefighter or civilian, so everybody’s good on that aspect. We did have mutual aid from Bluewell Volunteer Fire Department and East River (Volunteer Fire Department).”
The cause of the incident is under investigation, Thompson said. Investi-gators will try to learn if the sprinkler head was faulty or electrical parts around it had malfunctioned.
Dennis McAllister, general manager of the Mercer Mall, said he was told by firefighters there was no evidence of an actual fire, and that mist from the sprinkler could have looked like smoke.
Thompson said the scene of the incident was at the store’s mall entrance side. Water damage was in that one section of the store,
“Hobby Lobby should be open for regular business again (today),” Thompson said. “They’ve got the employees over there right now cleaning the mess up.”