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Quick response to Jefferson Memorial Hospital blaze praised

December 24, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - Fire officials were thankful that the situation was not worse after fire broke out in a supply room at Jefferson Memorial Hospital Sunday morning.

The 8:33 a.m. fire - attributed to a fluorescent light - was quickly contained by a sprinkler system. Firefighters were praised for their six-minute response to the hospital at 300 S. Preston St.

The fire started in a transformer in the fluorescent light, which was in a supply room for the operating room, said Roger Eitelman, president and chief executive officer of West Virginia University Hospitals - East, which operates the local hospital and City Hospital in Martinsburg, W.Va.

Some of the fire dropped from the light and landed on some supplies in the room, Eitelman said.

When firefighters made it to the room, the fire had burned a small area and a small amount of water was needed to extinguish it, according to Eitelman and Henry Christie, spokesman for Independent Fire Co.

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Firefighters used a thermal imaging device to find the fire in the smoky conditions, Christie said.

Smoke spread into some parts of the hospital and officials had to move some patients, Eitelman said.

The hospital's labor and delivery area was above the fire, and a mother and her baby were moved to a smoke-free area, Eitelman said.

Four patients in the emergency room were moved into a newly opened emergency care area separate from the main building and one patient was transported to City Hospital because that patient needed some immediate testing, Eitelman said.

Eitelman estimated the damages to be roughly $5,000 and said the operating room probably will return to normal operations on Wednesday following cleanup.

The fire did not interrupt any operations, Eitelman said.

Eitelman praised local firefighters for their quick response.

All six of the county's fire departments sent help and the fire was under control by 8:48 a.m., according to Eitelman and Christie.

"It was an incredible response. These are volunteer departments," Eitelman said.

"We're very fortunate. It could have been a lot worse," Christie said.

About 20 inpatients were being treated at the hospital, Eitelman said.

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