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Fire Forces Thousands to Evacuate International Auto Show [Video]

Fire Forces Thousands to Evacuate International Auto Show [Video]

Firefighters walk to Cobo Center in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, where a small electrical fire forced the evacuation of thousands of people from exhibit halls where they were checking out the North American International Auto Show. The fire was in th

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

January 22, 2010

DETROIT – No one was injured and there were no reports of significant damage from an electrical fire at a Detroit auto show exhibit that shut the event down for a few hours today, officials said.

The fire, which spread smoke throughout Cobo Center and forced the evacuation of the main showroom, began in scaffolding and high-powered lights in the ceiling above the Audi exhibit, officials said. Audi employees quickly moved away spectators and vehicles, including a $175,000 R8 Spyder, from the automaker’s staging area.

Shand Spencer, a spokeswoman for the North American International Auto Show, said the show reopened about 5:30 p.m. Organizers offered replacement tickets to those who didn’t want to wait out the reopening today.

Karen LaDucer and Sherry Fredericks, administrators at the College for Creative Studies, said they were taking a quick tour of the show before their shifts working the school’s vehicle design booth when they saw and smelled something amiss.

Just after they walked into the main showroom, LaDucer saw a small fire in the ceiling above the Audi exhibit.

“It looked like flames from a gas grill,” LaDucer said.

Spencer said the fire was quickly contained and the exhibit area evacuated as a precaution.

Kelly Strong, 23, a student at Ohio University, saw flames going up fast in the ceiling above the Audi exhibit.

“The Audi employees tried moving people off the floor, and started moving the cars,” she said. “The flames really spread fast. They did a good job making sure people got out of there.”

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