Brooklyn Paper wrote a small article about a fire that filled the United Artists multiplex on Court Street, Brooklyn, with smoke yesterday afternoon. But the paper didn't need to tell me. I knew about it already, since two friends of mine were in the theatre at the time.
The Paper gives a bit of the flavor of the event in this passage:
Eight minor injuries, mostly from smoke inhalation, were reported in the fire, which apparently started in the popcorn maker and quickly forced the evacuation of all 11 floors of the building.
Alison Katz and her friend Melissa Garry were watching “The Ugly Truth” in a sixth-floor theater when the fire started.
They said they did not hear the alarm, but learned of the fire when “one of the ushers finally turned on the light, rushed in and told us to get out,” Katz said.
“But no one was leading us, so we just went down the escalators,” she added.
The incompetence and complete absence of any proper evacuation procedure was far worse than that accounts lets on, however. Anyone who has ever patronized this poorly run cinema knows first hand the lack of intellectual and professional engagement of its young, callow, bored, slothful staff. It should come as not surprise, then, that nobody knew what to do in the case of a fire.
Like the patrons quoted above, my friends (who were there with their children, seeing "G-Force") did not hear the fire alarm. They only knew something was up when a staffer came into the theatre (which was filled with children) and said there everything was OK and they should stay put. Soon after, however, a more panicked worker came in and hurriedly said everyone should leave. No instructions. And certainly no one lead the moviegoers out or waited to make sure the theatre emptied out.
My friends found their own way down the many escalators by themselves and the building was quite smoky. The whole affair was horribly handled, and, even though the fire was localized, it's a miracle no one was seriously hurt.
It's just what you'd expect from a movie theatre owned by Bruce Ratner, isn't it? Screw the public; let's make money!