UPDATE: Suspicious package found in Plymouth's Drake Circus mall was fire prevention device
Police have revealed that a suspicious package which caused the evacuation of hundreds of shoppers was sparked by a fire prevention device.
Yesterday Drake Circus Shopping Centre had to be cleared after the package was found at BB's restaurant.
Police today said the item was in fact a device which is placed inside piping to prevent the spread of fire.
It is thought the item, which is shaped like a pillow, fell out of a pipe in the mall and was spotted by mall staff.
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Both staff and shoppers were affected by the evacuation which left hundreds out in the cold for more than an hour.
Speaking to The Herald at the scene, shopper Patsy Dunton, from Kingsbridge, said she had come to Plymouth to go shopping for the day.
She said: “We were in Primark, the bell went off and we were told there was an incident. We’ve only come here for the day but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Maura Rivers, from Launceston, said she was stuck during the incident because her car was in the car park. “We had just got here, then we were asked to leave,” she said.
Simon Spalding, from Plympton, said he hadn’t even started shopping when the centre was evacuated. “I was hoping to go into Waterstones to start my Christmas shopping, but what can you do.”
An alarm system in Drake Circus alerted shoppers and staff to the incident and people were moved to two points at the Plymouth Methodist Central Hall and Bretonside Bus Station.
Wendy Haydon, from Wallis, said: “There was nothing we could do, we were all evacuated. It’s for the safety of the staff and customers.”
Sarah Jordan, from H&M, said: “It was a bit scary, we heard the bomb scare alarm going off and we were evacuated.”
Charlotte Smith, also from H&M, added: “It was a bit daunting.”
Royal Naval Bomb disposal teams examined the package and found it to be safe.
The fire service also attended the scare and a 50 metre cordon was put in place.
BB’s cafe is situated between the Lush cosmetic store and the River Island clothing store in Drake Circus Shopping Centre.
After staff and shoppers were evacuated, the Plymouth Methodist Central Hall opened its doors and offered hot drinks and snacks.
Minister Paul Smith said: “We saw they were evacuating so we thought we would open our doors. That’s what we’re here for. It was a bit like the war!”
A spokesperson from Drake Circus said: “We would like to thank everyone involved in the safe and speedy evacuation of the building and the subsequent reinstatement: we would also like to thank the general public for their cooperation.
“There is no more disruption at Drake Circus and the centre is fully open.”
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