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Car on fire blamed for NJ mall evacuation

PARAMUS, N.J. (AP) -- Authorities say the noise from a fallen metal support frame inside a department store was mistaken for gunshots as shoppers evacuated over a fire outside a New Jersey mall.

The panic at the Garden State Plaza in Paramus began shortly after 8 p.m. Saturday, when a car caught fire in a parking lot.

As smoke from that fire entered the store, workers told customers to leave. The moving crowd knocked over a large metal display stanchion on the store's main level, causing noises that many confused for gunshots.

The entire mall was evacuated after the gunshot reports.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the car fire.

The mall has been the scene of violence before.

In November, a 20-year-old Teaneck man fired shots inside the mall, then killed himself.

AP-WF-05-11-14 1708GMT

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