4:10pm Monday 29th April 2013
By Sam Christie and Tim MacFarlan
MORE than 300 staff were evacuated from John Lewis at Bluewater today (April 29) due to a suspected ammonia leak which hospitalised seven people.
Paramedics treated more than 20 people at the scene for exposure to the gas leak.
Five fire engines, three ambulances and police cars were called to the scene at around noon.
Staff returned to work, following a 45-minute store closure.
Firefighters investigated the leak and left the scene at 1.10pm.
Store manager Karen Lord said: "There was a small gas leak from a very small fridge in our demonstration unit in the basement.
"We thought it better to be safe than sorry so we evacuated the basement immediately.
"Over 45 minutes fire crews took every precaution to ensure that the branch was absolutely fine.
"The smell was quite pungent so it became quite obvious that the right thing to do was to get the partners that were affected to first aid.
"The partners are at Darent Valley being fully checked out."
A John Lewis worker, who did not wished to be named, told News Shopper: “Everyone was confused as to what was happening but we were eventually told about the leak.
“We were outside for an hour and were given regular updates.
"Staff working around the area were taken away when we started selling again and staff from other departments had to fill in.
“It happened in the basement and workers were taken away and have been given Kit Kats.”
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