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Three People Injured Inside Party City Store When Shelves Collapse

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BOCA RATON (CBSMiami) – Three people were injured Tuesday morning when seven aisle shelves collapsed inside a Party City store.

One victim, L.W. Black, told CBS4's Peter D'Oench, "It was scary. It was real scary. The left side of one wall turned loose."

Black said it happened at 10:00 a.m. at the store at 22191 Powerline Road south of Palmetto Park Road just as the store was opening.

He believes there would have been more injuries had the accident happened later in the day when more customers would have been in the store.

Palm Beach Fire Rescue brought in a special response team with thermal imaging cameras to see if any victims had been buried beneath the shelves. Fortunately that was not the case.

Palm Beach Fire Rescue tweeted out dramatic photos of the collapsed shelves and the damage inside the store.

Aisles Collapse In Party City
Rescue crews search for shoppers after aisles collapse in Boca Raton Party city. (Source: Twitter/ Palm Beach County Fire Rescue)

"It's too early to tell you how this happened," said Palm Beach Fire Rescue Capt. Albert Borroto. "We can tell you that seven aisle shelves collapsed on each other. Three people were treated for minor injuries and released."

Black said he is an installation coordinator for another company, American Greetings, and he was inside the store supervising the installation of a display of greeting cards when the accident happened.

"I saw one side of the wall move," he said. "It was a retainer wall. I shouted out to everyone that they should get out, get out. I was hollering, 'Get out.' I was thinking I should get the hell out but I couldn't.

"I was under one of the panels and the panel popped up," he added. "I was in the middle of the panel and everybody else was behind me. The panel came out and popped up like this. It popped up like a cork. I was underneath the shelf for a few minutes. I wasn't really hurt much.

"Now had it been solid, I would probably not be here to talk to you. These things start like a domino effect. I knew when the shelves fell, it was like dominoes. Those shelves were falling and they are eight feet tall and if you are between them you are gone."

Shoppers meanwhile said they were surprised by the accident.

A woman, who said her first name was Mildred, said, "It's horrible. It's scary. I could have been in there with my son shopping."

Susanna Seiter, a customer service representative next door at Boca Pharmacy, said "I was inside working and I heard a loud noise. It sounded like thunder. It went on for a long time.

"I saw what happened afterward. It looked like all the rubble was flat. I said, 'Is everybody okay?' I said, 'Is there anywhere here underneath?' And one woman said I climbed out of it."

Black said he was not sure what caused the accident.

So far Party City has not commented.

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