04/05/2012 03:38 pm ET

Macy's Fire In Herald Square Sparked By Cigarette

MIDTOWN — The basement fire at Macy's Herald Square that forced the evacuation of hundreds of terrified shoppers was sparked by a cigarette butt, marshals determined Thursday.

The blaze at the iconic department store, located at 151 W. 34th St., broke out Wednesday afternoon and sent more than 1,000 people spilling onto the street, officials said.

Fire marshals Thursday found that the fire — which started in the basement and shot up through a service pipe before igniting a spring flower show display on the ground level — began with a "carelessly discarded" cigarette, an FDNY spokesman said.