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Nursing home fills with smoke from dryer fire

November 27, 2001

Nursing home fills with smoke from dryer fire



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


More than 50 people were evacuated from IHS Nursing Home Sunday night after the building filled with smoke from a fire in a clothes dryer, said fire officials.

Cheryl Carnes, administrator of the nursing home, said about 51 residents of the nursing home were taken to the cafeteria at Charles Town Junior High School, which is behind the nursing home along W.Va. 9 east.

Twelve residents were taken to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, said John Sherwood, the hospital's chief operating officer.

Of the 12 taken to the hospital, three were being examined in the emergency room, although they did not appear to be suffering from any major complications, Sherwood said.

Some of the other nine patients at the hospital were taken there because they use oxygen and it was decided it would be better to keep them at the hospital until rescue crews determined it was safe for people to return to the nursing home, Sherwood said.

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It was "total chaos" when firefighters arrived at the nursing home, said Donald Longerbeam, assistant chief of the Independent Fire Co.

Smoke from the fire had extended through the building and nursing home residents were being moved outside, said Longerbeam.

There is a walkway between the nursing home and the junior high school, and some of the patients were rolled to the school in beds and wheelchairs, said Longerbeam.

Nursing home workers Debbie Hough and Rosalyn Brown stood outside watching over eight nursing home patients lying in beds. They were bundled in blankets to keep them warm in the damp, foggy conditions.

Hough said the patients were waiting for ambulances to transport them to another location.

"I don't know if they're taking everybody or what," said Hough.

Some patients who had been taken out of the building were to be returned after it was determined that the smoke had been reduced to a safe levels, emergency officials said.

Carnes said 114 people live in the nursing home.

Every fire department in Jefferson County, as well as South Berkeley, Hedgesville and Baker Heights from Berkeley County responded to the call. A large number of rescue personnel were needed to evacuate people from the building, said Henry Christie, a member of the Independent Fire Co.

Even a bus from Charles Town Races showed up to help.

It is not known what caused the dryer fire, which was quickly extinguished, said Longerbeam. It was reported at 7:32 p.m.

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