Before the holiday season hit, the Mall of Georgia had an unfortunate series of events. In the span of three days, two fires took place and the mall had to evacuate on multiple occasions. On Sunday, November 7th the carousel went up in smoke, and on the following Tuesday, Rue 21 was set on fire.
The carousel has been a kid-friendly attraction in the food court for years, so it was a shock to all when it suddenly started smoking that Sunday afternoon. The sweet lady who has operated the carousel for 11 years was seen being comforted by a little girl, who’s a frequent visitor to the carousel, as she cried. The mall was evacuated until firefighters cleared the smoke and deemed the mall safe to enter. However, that wasn’t the end of this inconvenience. Throughout the day the fire alarm continued to go off while the firefighters and mall security made sure the mall’s fire alarms were working properly. For this reason, people were constantly evacuating and rentering the mall until the workers and shoppers collectively decided to ignore it. Eventually, the fire alarms stopped completely and mall activity continued as normal. Though, that didn’t last long.
On Tuesday of the same week, the fire alarm went off again. I was working at the time and because of all the false alarms on Sunday my managers did not immediately evacuate the store thinking it was another test. That was proved wrong when a man ran into the store, bewilderedly asked us what we were doing, and yelled, “The mall is on fire!” This sprung us into action and we ushered the customers out of the store and towards the nearest exit. Mall goers were free to leave, but employees still had to close their stores which led to them sitting outside for hours. While waiting we learned from Snapchat that a clothing rack in Rue 21 had caught on fire, and the smoke spread all the way to the food court.
Once the news crew arrived, they interviewed Rue 21 employees, Ruth Chuckwu and Vanessa Reyna. “It was a regular shift for us. We saw customers walking around, shopping,” said Chukwu, “One second we’re doing our job, and next we see a flame.” When they first saw the flames the two teenage employees tried filling buckets with water to dump on the fire, but by the time they got back, the fire had already grown too big. This did not make them lose hope though, and Reyna found a fire extinguisher and bravely approached the fire. Chuckwu said, “She grabbed an extinguisher and said ‘not today fire’ … I swear, she was not letting that department burn down.” Chuckwu recorded Reyna’s efforts in extinguishing the fire until she was handed a fire extinguisher of her own, which can be seen here: Fire footage
They were not able to completely put out the fire, but they did keep it contained until the fire department arrived. Luckily, no one was hurt, but the mall remained closed to everyone except first responders for the rest of the day. The firefighters ruled the start of the fire as arson and are currently offering rewards up to $10,000 for any new information.
Louie, S. L. (2021, November 10). Young employees attempt to put out fires at the Mall of Georgia, reward announced. Cbs46. Retrieved November 28, 2021, from https://www.cbs46.com/news/young-employees-attempt-to-put-out-fire-at-mall-of-georgia-reward-announced/article_5191ece8-4271-11ec-b630-df74061ad473.html#tncms-source=block-behavioral