The Spokane Fire Department responded to NorthTown Mall in full force Saturday afternoon when a fire was reported near electrical equipment in the building’s basement just before 2 p.m.
But crews from several arriving firetrucks found no fire. Instead, they discovered flooding and damaged electrical equipment in the basement, where the water pumps that feed into the Blue Zoo aquarium’s fish tanks are located.
The mall partially lost power, but the extent of the outage wasn’t immediately known, according to general manager Grove Ayers.
Spokane fire Battalion Chief Chris Phillips said there was electrical arcing on the surface of the water and smoke that led someone to report the fire. Crews evacuated a few mall employees who were taking online orders and several Blue Zoo staff caring for animals.
Firefighters and an aquarium employee determined one of the fish tank pumps failed, which overwhelmed the second pump and led to a large quantity of water leaking from the tank into the basement, Phillips said. Crews cleaned up some of the flooding to prevent further electrical issues.
Phillips said it’s unclear whether the flooding caused the power failure or the power failure led to the flooding.
Avista later responded to repair the electrical equipment and determine what caused the power outage.
Ayers said the building suffered no notable damage that should hinder operations at the Blue Zoo or the mall, which is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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