Wednesday just might not be the best night to go watch a movie.
Last night, moviegoers at the Regal South Beach Stadium 18 were interrupted with the blaring of the fire alarm. At around 7:30 p.m., the alarm sounded, causing guests to think it was just some sort of routine test, until a voice over the loud speaker announced a fire had been reported in the building and everyone was to proceed to the nearest exit.
Smoke filled the theater, and guests lethargically made their way down the escalators. Everyone seemed to overlook the stairs and instead flocked to the escalators, looking for the cause of the fire.
The second level of the theater was clouded with smoke, and tiny figures could be seen taking off their jackets and throwing them over the concession stand. Theater management and various employees handled fire extinguishers and tried to put out the fire caused by the popcorn machine.
Within minutes, the entire theater was evacuated and a crowd of at least 100 formed outside on the corner of Alton Road and Lincoln Road. Firefighters arrived on the scene no less than eight minutes after the alarm had sounded.
"People were moving really slowly for there being a real fire," commented one disgruntled customer to her friend outside the theater.
Another passerby was overheard telling his friend how upset he was that "some fry cook messed up our movie!"
At 8 p.m., a theater manager made an announcement that it would be at least another two hours before they could let anyone back in the building, and she couldn't make any promises regarding resumption of interrupted screenings. She also couldn't promise reimbursements to guests, but instead asked everyone to send an email letting them know they were there when this fire occurred so management could try to accommodate a compensated showtime in the future.
If you were at Regal South Beach on Wednesday night, email firstname.lastname@example.org for a possible free movie ticket -- no promises.
After this announcement, the crowd thinned out almost completely, and by 8:45 p.m., it was confirmed that the theater would remain closed the rest of the evening.
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Officials said the theater is likely to reopen today as normally scheduled.
Check out a video of the blaze here, as caught by a Local 10 viewer.