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Fatal Hospital Fire in North Carolina

Controlled by Sprinklers

AN EARLY-MORNING FIRE IN A DURHAM, North Carolina, hospital has left one patient dead and three others injured.  The fire call at the Durham Regional Hospital was dispatched at 2:15 am Tuesday for the 6th floor.

WRAL-TV

The initial dispatch was for a reported explosion, but when the FD arrived they found no evidence that one had occurred.  There was a fire in that ward however, and one of the patient has died as a result.  The sprinkler system activated and controlled the fire prior to arrival.  Three other patients were injured and three hospital workers were treated for smoke inhalation.

WRAL-TV Raleigh reports:

The sixth floor houses Select Specialty Hospital, a separate facility that specializes in long-term acute care for patients who have longer stays in the hospital. The unit has 30 beds.

No patients were evacuated because of the fire, hospital officials said, but some have been moved to other parts of the hospital because of flooding caused by the sprinklers.

More information about the injuries wasn't immediately available, but officials confirmed all three patients were on ventilators at the time of the fire. They were transported to the hospital's intensive care unit to continue receiving care, officials said.

The Raleigh News & Observer adds:

Duke University owns Durham Regional Hospital, and Duke police were handling the investigation. They referred all questions to the hospital’s command center that opened after the fire.

Durham police sent their forensics team to the hospital to help Duke police. (Hospital operations chief Katie) Galbraith said that was standard procedure in trying to determine what caused the fire. The incident was not considered suspicious, she said.

"We train for this kind of thing all the time," Galbraith said in praising staff members for responding "beautifully" to the emergency.

"We hope it never happens," she said, but workers regularly train for several kinds of incidents.

There is no early indication yet of what started the fire other than "sparks" started it.

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