Science center roof catches fire; 200 evacuated

Sunday, November 2, 2003

ST. LOUIS -- A fire confined to the roof of the St. Louis Science Center's Omnimax Theater dome prompted the evacuation Saturday of about 200 people from the popular tourist site.

Officials said no injuries resulted from the fire, reported about 5 p.m. after a patron spotted flames on the center's roof while he tended to a disabled car outside the site.

Most of the center had closed for the day when the flames first were seen about the time the Omnimax's showing of "Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West" was to begin, said Gretchen Jaspering, a spokeswoman for the site. The evacuees were those attending that viewing, Jaspering said.

Firefighters were investigating whether the fire may have been sparked by cellular telephone equipment atop the dome.

Paul VanLieshout, 35, a food services contractor for the center's cafeterias, and various patrons said the evacuation was orderly.

"You could see the exits, and there was no confusion," he said.

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