2-ALARM TRASH FIRE EMPTIES SAKS FLAGSHIP

Byline: Mark Tosh and Julie L. Belcove

NEW YORK — Hundreds of shoppers and employees were evacuated from Saks Fifth Avenue Tuesday afternoon due to a two-alarm fire in the basement of the store.
The store, which remained closed Tuesday, is expected to reopen today at the normal time, 10 a.m., the Saks spokeswoman said.
The fire apparently was confined to a 10-foot-by-40-foot dumpster in the basement, according to a fireman on the scene. The fire was called in to the fire department at 3:18 p.m. and under control by 4:50 p.m., a fire department spokesman said.
Five shoppers in the store and one firefighter were treated for smoke inhalation, according to the spokesman. Two of the shoppers were taken to New York Hospital, and the others were treated on the scene.
Philip Miller, Saks chairman and chief executive officer, said the fire was “small” and that he believed the damage to the store and merchandise was “very slight.” Later, a Saks spokeswoman said, “We don’t anticipate any” merchandise damage. The fire department had no damage estimates.
The cause of the fire was under investigation by the fire marshall, the fire department spokesman said.
Miller noted that the firemen were trying to air out the building because it was full of smoke and had to be evacuated.
Miller said “for sure” the store will be open this morning. Karl Lagerfeld is scheduled to make a luncheon appearance there today.
A fireman at the store said the fire was restricted to “garbage” that burned in the basement. However, the carbon monoxide from the smoke reached “toxic levels,” he said.
Saks used portable fans to ventilate the store, the fireman said.

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