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Sunday, May 25
Updated: May 25, 10:50 PM ET
Mavs play it safe, evacuate arena news services

DALLAS -- A small grease fire forced the evacuation of American Airlines Arena about 30 minutes before the scheduled tipoff of Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

The game started about 30 minutes later than its scheduled start time. The San Antonio Spurs led the Dallas Mavericks in the best-of-seven series 2-1.

"It was a small grease fire in a kitchen on the platinum seating level,'' Mavericks spokesman Gregg Elkin said.

Alarms in the arena went off, and spectators were told to head to the nearest exit. Many fans waited in the concourse area and then returned to their seats when the building was declared safe.

The Spurs initially left their locker room but were told to return because, according to Mavs president and CEO Terdema Ussery, the Mavericks identified that it wasn't anything major "in a matter of seconds"

"We set it up so we evacuate the whole building," Ussery said. "We want to make sure that people are safe and that they're here here having a great time. So we'd rather evacuate the building, identify the people and make sure it's a minor problem (rather) than to assume it's a minor problem.

"The system in the building is a very sensitive system, and we have a lot of security precautions all over the building," Ussery continued. "We'd rather do that and be safe, given the times that we live in."

Information from's Marc Stein and The Associated Press was used in this report.



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