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Westbury Walmart Evacuated After Christmas Tree Fire

Shoppers ushered to safety, no injuries reported


A fire broke out among Christmas trees and decorations for sale outside a Westbury Walmart during the  busy holiday shopping weekend, police and fire officials said.

In this Nov. 28, 2008 file photo, Nassau County Police examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y. where Jdimytai Damour, a temporary Wal-Mart worker, died after a throng of unruly shoppers broke down the doors and trampled him moments after the Long Island store opened for day-after-Thanksgiving bargain hunting. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has issued new guidelines this year seeking to prevent another tragedy. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, file)

In this Nov. 28, 2008 file photo, Nassau County Police examine the front of the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y. where Jdimytai Damour, a temporary Wal-Mart worker, died after a throng of unruly shoppers broke down the doors and trampled him moments after the Long Island store opened for day-after-Thanksgiving bargain hunting. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has issued new guidelines this year seeking to prevent another tragedy. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, file)

Nassau County police said the blaze was reported around 2:30 p.m. Saturday Nov. 28 at the Westbury location at 1220 Old Country Road.


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The fire occurred in a greenhouse used to store Christmas decorations and wrapping paper, Westbury Fire Department 1st Assistant Chief Patrick Cody tells the Press. Walmart employees and Nassau County police evacuated shoppers, he explains. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and removed all debris in about 45 minutes. There were no injuries. 

Cody says the fire destroyed two 12-foot racks of decorations, among other damage. He adds, however, that it could have been worse had there been no sprinkler system, which kicked on when the decorations ignited.

“It was serious,” Cody explains. “If they didn’t have a sprinkler system back there it would have been a very big fire.”

Cody also commended the store’s quick evacuation by Walmart employees and police.

“They did a good job getting everybody out,” he says. 

The cause of the fire is under investigation by Nassau County Fire Marshals. The store remains closed and will reopen on Sunday Nov. 29.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokesman Dan Fogelman says that the store was evacuated, but doesn’t know how many people were in the store. He says it was a busy shopping day.

The blaze aside, Walmart had been experiencing a busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend without major incident. The mega-store chain had implemented stepped-up security, crowd control and safety measures this season following a deadly stampede last year at a Valley Stream Walmart that claimed the life of 34-year-old security guard Jdimytai Damour. 

Walmart operates more than 8,159 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries.

 

With The Associated Press

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