A smoky basement fire at Macy’s flagship store sent shoppers fleeing into Herald Square Wednesday, officials said.
The all-hands blaze broke out at about 3:30 p.m. and sent smoke wafting throughout the landmark building, fire officials said.
More than 60 firefighters responded to the chaotic scene and put the fire out in about 45 minutes. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. An official on the scene said the blaze started in the cellar and spread to a contained area on the first floor.
Asbestos from a renovation project at the store also forced several firefighters to ditch their protective gear after the fire was extinguished, an official said.
Hazmat units were also on the scene.
Macy’s is in the midst of a a $400 million makeover that will add 100,000 square feet of space to the iconic store. The work is expected to continue through 2015.
It was not clear if there was any connection between the renovation and the fire.
Firefighters closed West 34th Street between Fifth and Seventh Avenue until the blaze was under control.
“Macy’s Herald Square was briefly evacuated at approximately 4 p.m. today due to a minor fire,” the company said in a statement. “No one was hurt and we received the all clear from the FDNY to reopen the store.”
Fire officials said two customers were taken to a hospital for minor injuries.
Customers and employees tweeted photos of the chaotic scene as they waited to return to the building.
“Was just evacuated from the 12th-floor executive offices,” tweeted one worker.
“Fire alarm went off at Macys and everyone has to evacuate,” tweeted another. “Walking down from the 6th floor.”
After the flames were put out, employees returned to their posts and customers were let in about 30 minutes later.
“I was in the basement, and they said we had to leave,” said Carol Mikofsky, a shopper from the Upper West Side. “I have stuff left in the coat check.”
Republished with permission of The New York Post