A fire closed an Escondido mall on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
The small fire was reported just before 6 a.m. Sunday at Westfield North County on Via Rancho Parkway, according to the Escondido Fire Department. A security guard told NBC 7 the fire started inside the Brookstone store.
All mall employees were evacuated. The mall wasn't scheduled to open until 8 a.m. Sunday, so no customers were inside. The fire was out in about 20 minutes, fire officials said.
The three-story mall eventually opened at 9:30 a.m., according to its Facebook page. A handful of mall establishments, including Cache, Old Navy and the Cheesecake Factory, were closed for part of the day. Brookstone was closed Sunday and remained closed Monday.
The inconvenient closure came just days before Christmas and one day after “Super Saturday,” which is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. The California Highway Patrol issued a Sig Alert for Interstate 15 at Via Rancho Parkway Saturday night because of a traffic backup of mall shoppers.
“With all the traffic and everyone driving around, we tried to wait until early this morning," said shopper Bill Burke, who says he was turned away when he arrived at the mall early Sunday.
Burke was eventually able to do his holiday shopping but said there were still signs of the fire inside the mall.
“Unfortunately, it’s by the Santa Experience," he said. "They have it cordoned off, and it smells pretty bad.”
No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire is under investigation. A HAZMAT crew was on scene.