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Electrical short, smoke cause evacuation of Wal-Mart

A short in an electrical system at about on Wednesday morning caused the evacuation of the Wal-Mart in Woodstock.

Two employees about 7 a.m. passed by the store’s salon and smelled an electrical odor. The salon was closed at the time and locked up.

At the time they noticed the smell,  Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Assistant Fire Marshal Joseph Loving appeared in the store in uniform, a case of  being in the right place at the right time.

He happened to walk into the store before the start of his work day.

“They saw me in uniform and asked me, ‘Do you smell that’,” Loving said. “I smelled it and saw smoke.”

He described it as a hazy smoke.

Loving called the incident into dispatch and ordered the evacuation of the store, about 20 employees and five to 10 customers. The evacuation was conducted in an orderly manner and took only a few minutes, Loving said.

“You never know. You get everyone out and safe,” Loving said.

About seven fire vehicles and 25 first responders arrived, he said.

“It takes a lot of people to inspect such a large commercial space,” Loving said.

Using a key to open the gates, the fire crew entered the salon. The electrical system had shorted out, causing the smell and smoke but no working fire.

It took crews about an hour to check the walls, the heating and cooling system on the roof above the salon, and all of the places where a fire could have been smouldering.

Wal-Mart then reopened. The salon was to remain closed until an electrician can come in, Loving said.

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