Lismore Shopping Square was evacuated when a fire broke out in a café at around 8.15am on Tuesday morning.
The owner of Taste @ 8 had just opened up when a fire ignited in a refrigeration unit. Thinking quickly, she immediately unplugged the unit and battled the flames with a fire extinguisher. Her attempts limited the flames but with the thick insulation burning, toxic fumes were released.
Firefighters from Lismore Fire Station were already on their way, the shopping centre's alarm system automatically notifying the station.
Lismore Shopping Square management put their evacuation process into action as soon as the alarm was sounded.
"They have a very good evacuation system in place there," Lismore Fire Station commander Kerry Webster said. "The evacuation had already taken place by the time we got there."
"We had everyone out in three minutes," centre manager Rob Walker said. "And we kept people out until 9.30am, just to be sure."
Firefighters extinguished the fire and dispersed the fumes. Little damage was suffered by the café due to the prompt actions of the owner and the fire service.
Mr Walker estimated that there were approximately 200 people in the centre at the time of the fire. They were mostly staff plus some early shoppers.
"The system worked a treat," Mr Walker said. "We had this new automated fire system installed in 2005 and we train our fire wardens three times a year. Everything performed really well. No-one got hurt."
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