Police in Kent have appealed against “panic” after the chaotic evacuation of Bluewater shopping centre left one person injured on Saturday.
The sudden closing of a fire curtain created a “loud bang” prompting shoppers and staff to flee.
The county’s force urged calm in a statement on Twitter, advising shoppers that the incident was caused by a fire alert.
BLUEWATER: Fire alarm caused by cooking appliance in a food outlet. Please do not panic.— Kent Police (UK) (@kent_police) October 21, 2017
It came after dozens of visitors on social media spoke of chaos as the incident unfolded just before 3.30pm.
Alison Moore said: “people [were] running through the centre screaming”.
False fire alarm in Bluewater. Provoked panic with people running through the centre screaming. Everyone is so jumpy.— Alison Moore (@AliJaneMoore) October 21, 2017
We’ve just been evacuated out of Bluewater? Everyone’s running through screaming and saying to get out? Very confused— JMN (@jessnewcombe) October 21, 2017
Anyone know what has happened at Bluewater? Everyone suddenly running like mad and evacuating all the shops— Becca Wright (@_beccawright) October 21, 2017
Another person said they saw up to 60 people “screaming bomb”.
Kent Police confirmed to HuffPost UK that the incident was now over and was not terror related.
A spokesperson for the shopping centre, which is home to hundreds of shops and restaurants, was not immediately available.
But the venue tweeted: “A fire alarm has been triggered at Nando’s, it’s currently being investigated by Kent Fire Service. We hope to be back to usual very soon.”
A fire alarm has been triggered at Nando's, it's currently being investigated by Kent Fire Service. We hope to be back to usual very soon.— Bluewater (@TweetBluewater) October 21, 2017
Kent Police said: “Kent Police has been made aware that Bluewater has now fully re-opened following an earlier fire alarm.
“Two fire alarms were activated at 3.23pm due to problem with a cooking appliance in a food outlet, which has now been resolved.
“Shoppers were evacuated by the centre as a safety precaution.
“A loud bang caused many shoppers to rush to leave the building and there is a report of one person being injured.
“It is now known that the bang was caused by a fire curtain being activated and slamming to the ground.
“Kent Police have attended and liaised with Kent Fire & Rescue and Bluewater management.
“The incident has been resolved and the centre is open for business as usual.
Kent Fire Service has yet to respond to a request for comment.