A “suspicious” fire on Sunday afternoon in a lavatory behind a store near an entrance to the Palmer Park Mall was quickly put out by sprinklers but left water damage in three stores, a Palmer Township fire official reports.
The Palmer Township Municipal Fire Department responded at 4:50 p.m. to an alarm at the mall but as firefighters were on their way, people inside the mall called 911 to report an explosion and smoke inside the main entrance, Deputy Chief Jim Alercia said in a news release.
The mall was being evacuated as firefighters arrived. Shoppers and workers indicated the fire was in the IFIX and More store, which sells cell phone accessories and does minor repairs, Alercia said. The fire was contained to a lavatory in a rear stock room, Alercia said. It was put out by the mall’s sprinkler system, he added.
There was “moderate” water damage to the Claire’s and Verizon Wireless stores as well as fire damage to the lavatory and water damage to the stock room and sales floor at IFIX and More, Alercia said.
Fire personnel remained on scene to help mall staff ventilate the smoke from the stores and get the alarm system active again so the mall could open for its regular 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. hours on Monday, Alercia said.
Township fire investigators are probing what they have labeled a “suspicious fire”, Alercia said. Investigators were removing evidence in search of the cause and manner of the fire, Alercia said.
A drop ceiling, which was soaked by the sprinkler system, collapsed, making the sound that people thought was an explosion, Alercia said.
No one was hurt and Bethlehem Township firefighters and Suburban EMS assisted at the scene, Alercia said.