A fire alarm which triggered off at Komtar building, where the Penang Government administration is centred, was at first thought to be a just a drill, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today.
He said it happened just 10 minutes into the weekly state exco meeting which he was chairing at the 28th floor of the 65-storey building and was eventually told by one of his senior officers that the alarm was for real and they all had to leave the place.
“All of the exco members, except three who did not turn up as they were outstation, were told that we need to use the staircase from level 28 to go all the way down to the ground floor,” he said when met by reporters at the ground floor of Komtar.
He said there were about 2,000 civil servants working in the various floors of the building at that time and the evacuation took place smoothly as personnel from the Fire and Rescue Department investigated the premises.
“We will wait for the Fire and Rescue Department to give us the safety clearance before going back to the office,” he said, adding that the meeting would be adjourned to another date.
Meanwhile, the George Town Fire and Rescue Department told Bernama that they were notified of the incident at about 2.45pm and a team who arrived at the scene five minutes later found that the third floor corridor of the building was already clouded in smoke.
The department's spokesman said that they immediately took steps to locate the source of the smoke on the floor that housed eight shoplots, all of which were closed during that time.
As of 5pm today, the department had yet to find the source.