Call it a burning desire to shop

If yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater can cause a stampede for the exits, the same apparently isn't true in a crowded department store. At least that was the case in Dillard's South at the Great Lakes Mall in the Cleveland suburb of Mentor, Ohio, shortly after noon one day last week. The store was full of customers clutching Christmas gift lists when all the circuits in a high-voltage electrical panel near some dressing rooms melted down, filling the air with heavy, acrid smoke. An employee tried to extinguish the blaze. That didn't work. (Nor, by the way, did the smoke detectors.) So firefighters had to be summoned. About eight minutes after their arrival, the flames were out. But the shoppers weren't. And to hear Chief Joe Busher tell it, they weren't inclined to leave, either, until being ordered to do so. "It was amazing," he told reporters afterward. "They all wanted to stay.... We even had to put people at the door to keep [more customers] from coming in." There were no injuries, but damage to the panel was put at about $30,000. Store managers estimated another $100,000 worth of distressed merchandise. No word on whether it was being offered at a discount once the store reopened.

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