Woman stuck inside Cotton On during fire
Sat, 18 Aug 2012 6:19p.m.
By Sanele Chadwick
A woman was left stuck inside a retail shop while a fire alarm went off at Saint Luke's shopping mall last week.
A blaze broke out in the Westfield car park, causing shoppers to evacuate. But one woman became trapped inside Cotton On.
Saint Luke's mall is a busy place for shoppers on Friday afternoon, but for Rose French she got more than she bargained for.
“I smelt the smoke, and then I heard the sirens,” she says. “And I'm like ‘dude, I think there's a fire’.”
Ms French was inside the Cotton On changing rooms when the alarm sounded. When she came out, she noticed the doors to the shop were shut and she was trapped inside.
She says she thought immediately of the Doha mall fire in which the New Zealand Weekes' triplets died.
She started jumping and banging on the door, when a couple of Fire wardens came.
“They're like, ‘get out of the shop’. ‘I can't.’ ‘Use your key.’ ‘I don't work here.’ ‘Oh.’ ‘There's a fire.’ I'm like, ‘what do I do?’"
Ms French says the wardens' attempts to bust the door failed, and one went to find a Cotton On worker with a key to unlock the door.
“The girl from Cotton On came in and was like ‘oh, sorry, key, unlock’ and let me out. She said, ‘if you broke my door, you're paying for it’ and laughed.”
But Ms French believes Westfield needs to look at its evacuation procedures.
Westfield Saint Luke's is carrying out their own investigation, and confirmed to 3 News a woman had in fact been trapped inside Cotton On during a fire alarm.
Westfield assures the public they have the right procedures in place and is working with Cotton On to find out what happened.
Ms French says she's now cautious of visiting Westfield malls by herself, but has been back with a friend.
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20/08/2012 2:51:56 p.m.
What an appaling thing to say, that idiot girl from Cotton On.I wold go into that store ever. Westfield should close it down.
20/08/2012 7:16:55 a.m.
Mummy Bumbles wrote:
What on earth were the staff thinking ?? Well, obviously NOT thinking... Check you have no customers in the shop before you leave.... And no, Angela, sadly it's not policy to leave them unlocked for the fire dept to get in so that people can't steal on their way past. Te Awa Mall at the Base in Hamilton are a good example - they in their last evac let customers in BEFORE they'd let all their shop people back in.
19/08/2012 3:00:58 p.m.
Absolutely unacceptable that a shopper is left locked in a store during a fire outbreak! It's good that she has spoken out to prevent a tragedy in the future!
19/08/2012 12:34:04 p.m.
Old Friend wrote:
19/08/2012 8:22:32 a.m.
The store workers should be held responsible for the locking of a member of public in the shop. It is thier responsibility to ensure the shop is clear before they leave the shop, just as any fire warden in a business.
19/08/2012 7:49:06 a.m.
Fair NZer wrote:
Is any CUSTOMER always right?
19/08/2012 6:36:35 a.m.
Rose, don't you mean to say.. "They're like, really accurate in their reporting. And I'm like, Thanks!" ;)
18/08/2012 10:34:31 p.m.
I thought it was policy to close the doors but leave them unlocked, so that if the fire department had to get into your store to, you know, put out the fire, then they could. The staff really should have checked!
18/08/2012 9:33:29 p.m.
Ray Smith wrote:
I think that this is terrible. What ridiculously complacency on the part of the staff member of Cotton On. I believe fire drills/alarms should always be taken seriously. How foolish that the premises were not properly checked and evacuations effectively co-ordinated. That could well have been the difference between life and death. There is definitely room for improvement here, a stronger sense of responsibility for a start.
18/08/2012 6:56:29 p.m.
Very accurate report, thanks!
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