The incident was described by Minister of Trade and Industry Mariano Browne, who is overseeing the organising of the summit, as an “unofficial fire drill”. Browne has been based in the building and was forced to evacuate along with hundreds of international and local journalists and summit officials, including the US Ambassador to the Organisation of the American States Ambassador Hector Morales.
Minister of Energy and Energy Industries Conrad Enill also evacuated as the fire services moved in on the building. Evacuees spilled out onto the courtyard area in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
The IFC building neighbours the Hyatt, where 34 heads of state, including the US President Barack Obama, will be based for the summit proceedings.
“What happened is that there was a break in TTEC power service between South Quay and St Vincent Street,” Browne said as he waited outside of the building after the incident occurred at about 5 pm. “There was no power supply for ten minutes.” Back-up generators then kicked in, but fire alarms were still triggered, Browne said. “I don’t know what’s the reason for the alarms going off. But the electricity seems to have gone off on some floors.” The neighbouring tower on the compound was not affected, Browne said. Persons who evacuated yesterday were at first unsure what was going on and fire officials also said they were not satisfied with the evacuation time for the building.
“It took about half-an-hour for everybody to get out,” Waldron said.
However he described the exercise as “ a wonderful drill” which inadvertently served as a fifth summit dry run. By 5.30 pm the all clear was given for persons to re-enter the building and hundreds lined-up in the Hyatt courtyard to regain access.
Waldron assured that preparations of the summit remain on track.
“Preparations are going excellently, we are just consolidating everything,” he assured.