The fire department is escorting tenants back into the darkened Six Flags Mall to retrieve their belongings after shutting the mall down for fire code violations.
The main part of the mall has been deemed unfit for business because the fire safety equipment is inoperable with the power out, said an Arlington fire official.
It’s not clear if the power will return before a foreclosure auction set for Tuesday.
A representative for First Choice Power, the mall’s latest electricity provider, declined to comment about the mall’s account. But Reliant Energy filed suit Aug. 20 in an attempt to collect $1.3 million in deliquent electric owed by several malls owned by the same company, including Six Flags Mall, through April. Six Flags Mall’s portion is $349,226, according to the suit.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Suez Energy previously sued the mall, located at Texas 360 and Division Street, in February 2007 for nearly $390,000 in unpaid electric bills.
Attempts to contact the mall management were unsuccessful. The mall’s phone number was busy and a number given on the doors was for tenants to schedule an escort to go inside the mall.
Mall workers, such as Scott Osmar, with a marketing research company, showed up at the mall Thursday hopeful that the mall lights would be turned back on. But they were not.
The doors to the mall were closed, with no way to enter the main hallways.. The only light came in from the skylights.
Six Flags is not the only mall without electricity. So is at least one of its sister malls, also owned by Tom Morris. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports that Sunrise Mall in Corpus Christi has been without power this week.
The fire department started evacuating people from the mall Wednesday, said Keith Ebel, deputy fire marshall. Since the power is off, the alarms would not sound, strobes would not flash and the fire would not be reported to the monitoring company, he said.
The fire department has not been in communication with the mall’s management, Ebel said. But closing the mall and evacuating it under these circumstances does not require the management.
“That’s the fire code,” he said.
Pets that were in a shop inside the mall were taken to an animal shelter, Ebel said.
Mall anchors such as Everest College, Dillard’s and Cinemark appear to be operating without interruption.
Kesha Roberson, a medical coding and billing student at Everest College, said she and classmates used to go into the mall to eat at the food court. But not any more. The walls to the main mall hallways are now closed off.
Tenants such as Michelle Gutierrez, who operates a clothing store at Six Flags Mall, has long been frustrated with the mall’s operations. She is particularly incensed with the sporadic delivery of electric bills that she believes were often too expensive.
She was on her way to Home Depot Thursday to buy lighting supplies so that she could see enough to pack her store up and leave.
“It’s a nightmare,” she said. “They’re messing with people’s lives.”
News Researcher Stacy Garcia contributed to this report.