Electrical fire leads to evacuation at MedWest-Haywood

Emergency Department is still open
Jun 19, 2014
Photo by: Matthew Wilkerson

MedWest-Haywood was evacuated late Thursday after a small electrical fire broke out in the power room on the first floor of the building.

Though no one was injured and there did not seem to be any imminent danger after fire fighters quickly extinguished the fire, which was contained to the electrical room, the decision was made later in the night to evacuate all patients and staff.

"Due to the fact that some of our air handling units have malfunctioned, leaving us with reduced cooling ability, we are relocating all patients to other facilities under an abundance of caution," the hospital stated in a situation update.

The Emergency Department remains open for walk-in patients, who will be treated in the Emergency Department. Those who require admission will be relocated to other facilities.

Additional medical staff are arriving at the hospital to help with decisions involving the discharge and relocation of patients and emergency measures are being taken to repair damaged equipment. There is no timeline for repair.

Smoke was detected around 6:30 p.m. and emergency crews were on the scene in less than five minutes, according to a press release from the hospital.

Power issues resulting from the fire have caused the hospital to re-route all incoming ambulance calls to other facilities.

"We are aware that these types of situations can sometimes happen, and we have internal procedures in place to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and staff. We are pleased to report that our procedures worked very well for us and no one was injured during this incident," the press release said.

Martin Malloy, 81, was one of the patients who was forced to evacuate the hospital. He had been admitted Tuesday for issues with a blocked abdominal and had been told by doctors that he would likely be discharged Friday.

But just before midnight Thursday, hospital staff notified him that they were evacuating the building and gave him the choice of going to another facility or going home. Malloy said he felt ready to go home.

"One of the hospital surgeons drove me to my home personally in his car after midnight," Malloy said. "He drove me to my door and made sure I got inside OK. He was very courteous."

The evacuation, Malloy said, was very "methodical" and was handled smoothly without any chaos.

"I think they handled it efficiently and it was an excellent operation. Everybody from the surgeons to the nurses pitched in to accomplish a smooth evacuation. I was very pleased with how it went," he said.

Agencies responding were Junaluska Fire Department, Maggie Valley Fire Department, Canton Fire Department, North Canton Fire Department, Clyde Fire Department, Crabtree- Iron Duff Fire Department, Haywood County Rescue Squad, Haywood County EMS, Haywood County Emergency Management, Haywood County Fire Marshall and the Haywood County Sherriff’s Office.