By Jennifer Glickel
A fire broke out at Macy's on West 34th Street on Sunday, forcing the evacuation of thousands of holiday shoppers on what is normally one of the busiest days of the year.
The fire began on a metal escalator between the third and fourth floors about 4 p.m., filling the store with smoke. Smoke alarms alerted customers to evacuate, authorities said.
Frustrated customers crowded nearby streets for two hours, waiting for the store to reopen, so they could get out of the freezing cold. NYPD officers blocked the entrances.
"We're standing outside in the cold instead of being inside purchasing items and helping the economy," said Craig Flanders, 26.
Shopper Esmeralda Asane, 57, was on the first floor of Macy's when she was instructed to evacuate.
"There was smoke on the first floor and I saw it when I turned by the Lancome counter," she said. "I'm disappointed because I won't be able to do my holiday shopping today."
Police reported that the fire did not cause any injuries.
Macy's reopened at 7 a.m. Monday morning, and will remain open 24 hours a day until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Store owners reported lower turnout than normal over the weekend because of the storm.
Elina Kazan, a Macy's spokeswoman, told the Associated Press, she hoped extended hours would bring shoppers in.
"Hopefully some of those people who couldn't make it in because of the snowstorm will make it in when we're pulling all nighters," Kazan said.