Hundreds of holiday shoppers were evacuated from the flagship Macy's store at Herald Square on Sunday afternoon after a fire in an escalator sent smoke throughout the building. No injuries were immediately reported.

The fire occurred in an escalator between the third and fourth floors, the fire department said. The sirens of numerous police and fire trucks on 34th Street blared long after the fire was reported at 4 p.m. on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

Outside the building, a police officer announced to prospective customers after 5 p.m. that Macy's had closed. The smoke was so heavy at one point that passers-by on the street could smell it.

Mary-Jo Sedenquist, who was visiting the city from Wisconsin, said she went to Macy's looking for Christmas gifts and smelled smoke as she entered the store.

About 15 minutes later, she said, smoke alarms went off and an announcement was made that an evacuation was under way.

By that time, she said, "Everything was like a white haze."

Sedenquist said she and her friends were escorted by Macy's workers down a back stairway. As a result, they never got to shop. Sedenquist said she went to a nearby store instead.

The fire occurred as retail stores in Manhattan were attempting to recover from a foot of snow that fell on the city only hours before.