A routine safety test conducted in preparation for the opening of Fat One’s, NSYNC member Joey Fatone’s new hot dog stand at Orlando’s Florida Mall, sent the shopping center into chaos on Thursday. Billboard reports that a fire suppression system test at the eatery broadcast loud balloon popping noises over the mall’s PA system, causing shoppers to panic and flee in fear of a shooting.
“People were bumping into things, getting stepped on, falling, children getting dragged by their arms,” witness Mark Comer told local news station WFTV. At least 10 people sustained minor injuries in the mad dash to escape the mall, and four were transported to local hospitals.
“The Orange County Fire Inspector was there as a witness to the test, but did not conduct the test,” deputies said in an official statement regarding the incident. “An announcement was made on the PA system informing shoppers and employees the test would be conducted. The test consisted of six large balloons popping consecutively, followed by a fire alarm. This caused people to go into panic mode and run.”
A spokesperson for the Florida Mall added, “This afternoon at one of the food kiosks in the Dining Pavilion at Florida Mall, the Orange County Fire Marshall’s office was performing a fire suppression test. As part of this test, a bladder system within the device unexpectedly popped several times, startling some customers. The test has been concluded. Florida Mall remained open and is operating as usual.”
The grand opening of the hot dog kiosk will take place 9/10 from 10AM to 2PM.