66 stranded riders were safely evacuated by a technical crew with The Orlando Eye Friday, an incident that caused the 400-foot attraction to shut down, authorities said.
Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Kathleen Kennedy told The Associated Press no one was injured following the incident and all were taken off the ride in about three hours with the assistance of numerous firefighters.
Kennedy said the attraction, said to be the largest observation wheel on the East Coast, had initially stopped for more than 45 minutes.
Power was restored by a backup generator and a technical team at the attraction, backed by firefighters, carried out the task of removing riders from the enclosed capsules after each was brought down to the platform, officials said, Fox News reported.
“All guest are safely evacuated,” Kennedy told AP by phone Friday evening shortly after the last rider was safely removed at around 7 p.m. She said firefighters on ladders helped the ride technical team that manually opened the doors.
Six elite rescue climbers with the fire rescue squad were dispatched but ultimately not needed for a climb, Kennedy said. They were part of a 40-person agency special operations team that had climbed the attraction in previous training but such an operation was not necessary.
Andrea Alava, a public relations manager for The Orlando Eye, said in a statement that the attraction had been shut down as a safety precaution before the team went to a backup operation. She said teams carried out the actual evacuation.
Merlin Entertainments PLC owns The Orlando Eye as well as The London Eye in Britain.
At approximately 3:45 p.m., the operating systems for The Orlando Eye indicated a technical default with the system that monitors the wheel position. “As a safety precaution, the attraction is designed to automatically shut down if communication with the system is interrupted,” Alava said in an emailed statement.
“Immediately following the default, the operations team began working to resolve the matter to allow guests to disembark the attraction. A backup system was employed that allowed capsules to be moved to the platform and opened manually,” the statement added.