BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The faint smell of smoke lingered at Edgewater Mall on Wednesday, following scary moments the night before.
The shopping center was evacuated Tuesday after a lightning strike on a rooftop air conditioning unit caused a heating element in the AC unit to malfunction; filling the mall with smoke.
However, it was business as usual as the mall opened Wednesday morning during the countdown to Christmas. Few shoppers would have noticed the workers on the roof near the loading dock fixing the equipment that caused the commotion.
"The smoke was pretty thick out there," said Robert Devore.
Devore was working the late shift at Popcorn Plus when he noticed the smell of smoke billowing through the air vents
"I couldn't see across the mall from Smash. Mostly it was just smoke. It was a little scare. Everyone got out safely. We just evacuated and waited for the go to go back inside," Devore recalled, "It was our busy time. Especially for our popcorn store here. Like, this is our busiest time. A lot of people are buying tins."
By mid-morning, the air around the carousel was mostly clear, with only a hint of smoke lingering.
"This morning we all opened the doors again and it just sort of slowly faded out. Slowly more business is coming to the mall. The smell was kind of bad this morning, but we don't smell nothing now," said Devore.
Sears assistant manager, Manny Royo, says it wasn't a good time for something like the incident to happen.
"No, you want to stay open this time of year, as long as you can," noted Royo.
Royo wasn't on duty when all the excitement was happening, but he heard all about it on Wednesday. Like so many other merchants, Royo was breathing a sigh of relief that the emergency wasn't worse.
"Yeah, big time. We wouldn't want anything like that to happen this time of year. Any time of year, but this time would be the worst, of course," the assistant manager said.