More than 65 firefighters fought a ceiling blaze at the Drugfair in the Langley Park Shopping Center last night that injured one store employe and forced about 15 shoppers to flee.
It took about 30 minutes for firefighters from Montgomery and Prince George's counties, Takoma Park, Silver Spring, College Park and Adelphi to extinguish the blaze, which started in the rear of the store in an aisle stocking baby supplies, according to Takoma Park Fire Chief Roger McGary.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, McGary said. An employe at the scene said it is believed a cigarette might have ignited the blaze.
No other stores in the shopping center were affected and the damage was confined to the interior of the store, fire officials said. No damage estimate had been made last night.
The store's floor manager, Lloyd Hatter, was taken to Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park for treatment of injuries resulting from smoke inhalation.
The fire started about 8 p.m. in the drugstore, at 1141 University Blvd. in Takoma Park.
Shonda Patton, one of the store's cashiers, said that when she noticed the fire, flames were running along the store's ceiling. "I panicked . . . All the customers ran up to me and tried to pay for their stuff. I was getting out of the store."
She and another cashier, John O'Neal, helped the store's manager to evacuate the smoke-filled building. They said the injured manager tried to fight the blaze with a fire extinguisher before firefighters arrived.