by Malcolm Butler
Local Wal-Mart patrons got a little excitement Sunday night when they were forced to evacuate the store due to what was at first believed to be a fire.
At approximately 7:35 p.m., shoppers were notified to evacuate by Walmart staff who were stating there had been “a small fire.”
However, Ruston Fire Department personnel arrived on the scene minutes later and determined that the smoke was caused by a wire that had short circuited in the grocery section.
The event still caused some excitement said Camryn Tucker, who was in the store with her friend Emma Stone.
“We arrived at Walmart at 7:30 p.m.,” said Tucker. “I was on the aisle alone and could hear someone calmly evacuating customers. At first, I thought it was someone playing a joke since I didn’t see them wearing a Walmart vest.”
Both Tucker and Stone were among the Sunday night shoppers that left the store at the direction of the employees.
“The employee approached me and stated to leave my groceries where they were,” said Stone. “She told me the fire department was on the way.”
Just minutes later two Ruston Fire Department trucks arrived on the scene, according to both ladies.
Ruston Fire Department District Chief Tom Leith confirmed that no actual fire had started, but that the smoke was from a faulty wire in a freezer.
“We had to get the electricity to that door cut and secured,” said Leith. “That was really about it. We got everything back on. We were afraid we were going to have to shut off all the power to the back part of the store because we had trouble finding it because they have probably 15,000 breakers.”
Stone said that many of the shoppers hung around for 20 to 30 minutes but then began to depart as grocery carts were placed in front of the doors to the store to prevent customers from entering.