BROOKSVILLE - Wal-Mart employees at the intersection of Wiscon Road and U.S. 41 said they heard the screams just after 9 a.m. Tuesday.
"Get out! Get out!"
Brooksville Fire Department, Hernando County Fire Rescue, and Brooksville Police Department responded at 9:26 a.m. to a mechanical fire at the store, according to Brooksville Captain William Kaplan.
"One of the floor buffing machines was involved," he said, adding that most of the damage was from the sprinkler system that doused shelved products in the back storage area where the fire began. "The fire was extinguished within 15 minutes. We have a forklift in there now bringing stuff out that is still smoldering. With the assistance of Wal-Mart staff, we cleared the store of patrons relatively quickly."
There were no injuries to customers or employees, according to Wal-Mart Shift Leader Bill Rodriguez.
"We're working diligently to get the store open," Rodriguez said. "Fire rescue have not yet granted us access into the building."
The flames were 20 feet high beside an electrical generator, Rodriguez told a crowd of about 30 employees Tuesday morning, and there were a few inches of water on the floor from the sprinkler system.
Despite the risk of electrocution and injury from the flames, a woman who works at the store grabbed a fire extinguisher, and bravely put the fire out before evacuating the building.
The employee declined to comment or provide her name.
An estimated cost of damages was not available, Kaplan said. The state fire marshal will investigate but nothing initially appeared suspicious about the fire, Kaplan said.
About 30 employees waited outside the store as store leaders scanned rubber boots, gloves, masks, and other items to assist in the clean-up effort.