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Electrical Fire Closes Sears in Willowbrook Mall

Heavy smoke filled the second floor of the store late Tuesday night, fire official said.

Ladders from two firetrucks extend to the roof of the Sears at the Willowbrook Mall. Firefighters were on the roof venting the smoke out from the store. Staff photos by Daniel Hubbard
Ladders from two firetrucks extend to the roof of the Sears at the Willowbrook Mall. Firefighters were on the roof venting the smoke out from the store. Staff photos by Daniel Hubbard

Firefighters battled an electrical fire at the Willowbrook Mall late Tuesday night with smoke so thick they couldn’t see their hands in front of them.

Authorities received a fire alarm from the automatic notification system at the Sears in the mall at about 10:40 p.m., fire Commissioner Steve Toth said.

Firefighters saw heavy smoke coming out of the roof of the store when they arrived on the scene. There was heavy smoke on the first and second floors of the store.

“The smoke was so thick on the second floor firefighters couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces,” Toth said. “They had to crawl on their hands and knees to locate where the fire was burning.”

Firefighters found the main electrical distribution panel on the second floor on fire.

Authorities turned off the transformers, which are located under the store, before they attempted to extinguish the fire, Toth said.

Water was pumped out of the underground pits where the transformers are located before the power could be turned off, Toth said. Once it was, firefighters went back into Sears and extinguished the fire.

Firefighters were venting the smoke out of the building’s roof and with the department’s fans early Wednesday morning. They were checking to ensure there were no more fires burning in the store.

Sears is without power, Toth said, and will be closed. Willowbrook Mall is scheduled to be open Wednesday.

PSE&G will not restore power to the store until the electrical distribution system is repaired, Toth said. PSE&G and the township’s Fire Investigation Bureau are investigating the fire.

All five fire companies and the Wayne First Aid Squad responded to the blaze.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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