Dangerous behavior concerns fire officials after Carlisle Walmart fire


CARLISLE—A fire at the Walmart in Carlisle has EMS officials concerned about how some members of the community put social media above their own safety.

According to emergency services officials, the fire at the retailer in the first block of Noble Boulevard was reported around 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16.

Units from the Carlisle Fire Department and other mutual aid partners arrived to find a smoke-filled building with an evacuation in progress.

A fire in the toy section was quickly extinguished by Walmart employees and private citizens, however there were two minor injuries, with one patient transported to a local hospital and the other treated at the scene by EMS and released.

But it wasn’t the smoke and fire that concerned the first responders who are trained to deal with that sort of emergency. It was what followed that prompted a more dire response.

“This would not be a normal incident requiring a press release, but as members of the community that are responsible for public safety, there are some basic life safety measures that should be addressed,” explained Randy O’Donnell, Carlisle Borough Fire Chief in a press release.

“It is very concerning early in the incident that occupants of the store in the area of the fire did not evacuate. Many took photos and videos of the fire to post on various social media platforms. The photos and videos that we viewed showed no sense of urgency for an evacuation,” O’Donnell wrote. “The fire could have spread rapidly with the type of combustible materials that are stored in this area.”

O’Donnell said A rapid evacuation, whether in a public setting or in a home or work setting is key to safety.

“Over 3,000 of our fellow Americans die annually in residential structure fires. We feel these basic steps are important for the safety of our citizens and guests:

  • When a fire alarm or smoke detector sounds, evacuate to the closet exit.
  • When a fire is detected, evacuate to the closest exit.
  • Notify the fire department by calling 911 immediately.
  • Many commercial buildings, hotels and mercantile may have a fire alarm box located near exits of the structure. This will notify occupants of a potential emergency and to evacuate.
  • Use a fire extinguisher when the fire is manageable and you are not putting yourself in danger. Most important is to notify the fire department and to evacuate the occupants.

More tips can be found at www.nfpa.org/education.

“The takeaway from all of this is that the protection of life is more important than property. Basic fire safety steps we have learned throughout our lives is what we need to practice to protect ourselves and our family,” O’Donnell said.

Are you enjoying local news?

First Month 99¢

Already a subscriber? Login here.