Samantha Lenhart wasn’t sure what was happening at the Peru Mall after hearing a loud noise and people screaming.
It was later revealed a bad bulb in a light fixture over center court had caught fire.
Lenhart said people were shouting "fire" and "run."
“It was definitely a scary adrenaline rush,” Lenhart said.
Lenhart, the store manager at Finish Line, said she’s never experienced a situation like that during her 10 years at the mall, but everyone followed the fire procedures they had been trained on while evacuating. The mall was evacuated.
She said it seemed like smoke was billowing through center court, but Peru Deputy Fire Chief Jim Duncan said that was mainly dry chemical from fire extinguishers.
Duncan said mall officials used extinguishers on the fire, which put out the fire fairly quickly.
“There really wasn’t much of a fire,” Duncan said.
Fire departments from Peru, La Salle and Spring Valley still arrived on scene to ensure the fire was contained.
“It wasn’t a huge fire, but we didn’t know that until we were on scene,” Duncan said.
Duncan said final damages are unknown, but early estimates showed just the fixture itself as needing repair.
The far ends of the mall reopened after the fire department left and center court is expected to reopen once the slippery dry chemical is cleaned up.