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Cracked valve sets off sprinklers, fire alarm and forces Wal-Mart evacuation

More than 70 Wal-Mart employees and shoppers had to be evacuated from the store Sunday afternoon.

After Wal-Mart’s smoke alarms sounded around 3:24 p.m., everyone inside the building was ushered out to the parking lot, with employees on one side and customers on the other. Some shoppers took shelter from the rain in their vehicles while others waited just outside the doors.

Dean Spry, fire chief, said sprinklers over the garden centre went off which triggered the smoke alarms.

“Anytime a building’s sprinkler system is tied into the fire alarms and there is a water flow the alarms will go off because the water indicates that something’s wrong,” said Spry.

Spry figures it was about 20 minutes to half an hour before Wal-Mart staff – and then customers – was allowed back in the building.

“Fire fighters had to get the alarm system working again and they had to drain the sprinkler system,” said Spry.

The sprinkler system was activated when a valve froze and then cracked, said Spry.

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