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Part of John Lewis in Exeter evacuated after pipe bursts on opening day

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: October 12, 2012

  • Photo of the flooding in the technology department taken by Kris Frank

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A section of Exeter's new John Lewis store was evacuated today after a burst pipe flooded a section of the store.

Customers were evacuated from the lower ground floor and the top floor after the pipe burst at lunchtime.

The incident occurred just hours after the store officially opened at 9am this morning.

Our reporter Rich Booth was live at the scene and said the top floor and lower ground floor were both out of action to customers.

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Store Manager Kate Connock confirmed the bottom floor and top floor, including the café and some toilets were closed due to the burst pipe. She blamed over-usage for the incident.

White pieces of A4 paper were used to cover the lower ground floor and floor 4 on the store’s layout signs.

By 4pm, the bottom floor, top floor and toilet facilities were reopen. The cafe was open but was not serving food.

A section of the bottom floor remained cordoned off while members of staff frantically used mops and buckets to clear some of the water.

As well as the burst water pipe, the ground floor to first floor escalator stopped working. A team are still trying to fix it, although customers are still able to walk up it.

At this stage it is not known how much damage the flooding has caused to the new five-floor superstore.

People who were caught up in the drama started posting news of the incident on Twitter:

Max Rawlings ‏@maxirawlings123 tweeted: "So the john lewis restraunt is now closed because there is no water, that's because its all coming from the roof downstairs!!!"

Josh Luxon ‏@JoshLuxon said: "The John Lewis restaurant is shut because there's no water.. that's because its all pouring out of the ceiling downstairs."

The incident comes on the day of the official grand opening of the store.

Around 200 people stormed the entrance as the ribbon was cut and the doors swung open at 9am.

Throughout the day, shoppers have poured into the store desperate to get their first glimpse of Exeter's newest and biggest store.

Despite the burst pipe and subsequent flooding, the remainder of the store remains open to the public.

For videos, photos and reaction to the store's official opening this morning, check out our comprehensive live coverage.

PHOTOS: Click here to view a bumper photo gallery from Exeter’s John Lewis.

Read more from Exeter Express and Echo

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