*NSYNC fans may be excited to visit Joey Fatone’s new eatery, Fat One’s, coming to the Florida Mall in Orlando, but an industry-standard test performed in preparation for its upcoming opening sent mall patrons into a panic on Thursday (Aug. 25).
A fire suppression system test at Fatone’s hot dogs and Italian ice kiosk broadcast balloon popping noises over the mall’s PA system, and shoppers fled from the mall in fear that there was a shooting, according to a reports from Orlando’s WFTV and the Orlando Sentinel.
“People were bumping into things, getting stepped on, falling, children getting dragged by their arms,” witness Mark Comer, who was at the mall at the time, told the news station.
At least 10 people sustained minor injuries – “mostly falls, scrapes and twisted knees,” says the Orlando Sentinel — and four were transported to local hospitals. Many left personal belongings like shoes, phones, purses and strollers behind and were separated from friends and loved ones in the rush to exit the mall.
“The Orange County Fire Inspector was there as a witness to the test, but did not conduct the test. An announcement was made on the PA system informing shoppers and employees the test would be conducted. The test consisted of six large balloons popping consecutively, followed by a fire alarm. This caused people to go into panic mode and run,” deputies said in a statement, according to WFTV.
Mall spokesperson Les Morris said: “This afternoon at one of the food kiosks in the Dining Pavilion at Florida Mall, the Orange County Fire Marshall’s office was performing a fire suppression test. As part of this test, a bladder system within the device unexpectedly popped several times, startling some customers. The test has been concluded. Florida Mall remained open and is operating as usual.”
Billboard has reached out to Fatone’s rep for comment.
The menu at Fat One’s will consist of various styles of hot dogs, including the Boybander, which includes five mini hot dogs.