North County mall reopens after early morning fire

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. - An overloaded outlet in a stockroom at the Westfield North County mall caused a small fire that prompted authorities to delay its opening to holiday shoppers for about an hour and a half.

"We had to make sure it was open as quickly and safely as possible," said Escondido mayor Sam Abed.

The small electrical fire was in the stockroom of the first-level Brookstone store at the shopping center, 200 E. Via Rancho Parkway. It was reported 6 a.m., Escondido police Sgt. Rhett Gann said.

Smoke wafted from the storage room throughout the three-level mall and out its south entrance, Escondido Fire Department Battalion Chief Gary Correiar
said. The fire activated the store's sprinkler system, which helped contain the fire as crews extinguished the burning material.

The fire was ultimately contained to the stock room, authorities said. Some stores adjacent to Brookstone sustained smoke damage, Correiar said.

"A small fire at a big mall can be a big problem because of smoke issue. It gets in the ventilation system then it gets pushed out throughout the mall," said Correiar.

No one was injured, but smoke from the fire prompted authorities to delay the mall's scheduled 8 a.m. opening to 9:30 a.m., according to police and mall employees.

Correiar said ventilation crews removed the smoke, and county health officials were called in to assess the damage and cleanup requirements in the mall's food service businesses.

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