03:10PM, Thursday 09 June 2016
Bewildered customers got more then they bargained for when they stopped at a Dedworth Road petrol station on Sunday afternoon.
A ‘technical fault’ caused the shop’s electronic doors at the Shell petrol station to close automatically – trapping staff and customers inside the Windsor store for about 40 minutes.
The bizarre situation took a turn for the worse when an anti-theft system was triggered – filling the shop with artificial smoke and automatically locking the fire exits.
A video of the accidental lock-in was filmed from outside by Shah Rouf from Maidenhead.
In the video the 37-year-old can be heard saying: “If there was a real life fire in there, they would all be dead.
“What’s the point in 2016 having fire exits if no one can get out in an emergency situation.”
The taxi driver later told The Express: “There were four or five people still inside and the door was automatically locked. I didn’t know why.”
Shah said 10 minutes after the doors were locked, artificial anti-theft smoke began filling the building.
He added: “At this stage I was concerned because your first reaction is it’s smoke from a fire and there were no people coming out.”
The video shows that, as the shop began to fill with smoke, staff and customers inside and outside scrambled to try and open the main door.
One customer can be seen using a nearby fire extinguisher to prod the front door to see if it will open.
Firefighters were called and arrived shortly after 1pm. But as they got there the trapped people inside managed to open a fire escape at the side of the building and spilled out into the fresh air unharmed.
The manager of the shop, who asked not to be named, described the incident as a ‘technical fault’ and said the shop's electronic doors had locked for no reason.
He explained that after being locked inside, he passed the keys through the night-counter to a man outside and asked him to deactivate the alarm system.
He said the man accidentally turned the keys twice, which set off the anti-theft smoke.
“In my 10 years of experience nothing has happened like this,” he added. “I made sure the customers were safe. I put them in the toilets and said 'stay there'.
“One of the customers made a fuss but the others were fine.”
A spokesman the company said: “Shell apologises for any inconvenience or distress caused to our customers by the malfunction of entry doors at Shell Windsor. We are investigating this incident as a matter of urgency with the manufacturer.”
Watch a video of the ordeal below. Warning: video contains strong language.
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