Mall says flares not IEDs triggered fire alarm in Lake Wales

Posted at 4:34 AM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-22 16:56:26-05

UPDATE:   LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation says two items believed to be marine flares ignited in a hallway at a Florida mall, creating a large amount of smoke on Sunday afternoon.

Police had initially said they were IEDs. However, FBI spokeswoman Andrea Aprea said in a statement Monday there's no indication of any explosion at the Eagle Ridge Mall in Lake Wales.

Police and fire officials found smoke in a service corridor outside J.C. Penney and discovered what they believed to be an IED along with a book bag.

Aprea said bomb technicians found no trace of incendiary or explosive devices. She said there's no current indication of terrorism.

Lake Wales Deputy Chief Troy Schulze said in an email Monday that officials are searching for two "persons of interest." Both are white men. One is believed to be middle-aged while the second is between 20 and 40.

The mall was evacuated but opened for business on Monday, Schulze said.

No one was injured.


LAKE WALES, Fla. (AP) — Police in Central Florida say two improvised explosive devices ignited inside a mall Sunday evening.

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Lake Wales police Deputy Chief Troy Schulze tells news outlets that at 5:22 p.m., the Lake Wales Fire Department received an alarm call at the Eagle Ridge Mall. While en route to that call, their alarm for smoke was turned into a structure fire call.

As they arrived, they found smoke in the service corridor just outside J.C. Penney. They discovered an IED that ignited or detonated inside that service corridor as they went inside.

Schulze said they also found a book bag containing what they believed to be other devices inside.

Officials say no one was injured, but the mall was evacuated.

Authorities say witnesses described a person-of-interest. An investigation is ongoing.