Bend, OR – Early morning fire at hospital held in check by sprinkler system

A fire broke out in a washer for surgical instruments at St. Charles Bend early Wednesday, but a fire sprinkler kept the damage from being far more severe, officials said.  The blaze prompted closure of some areas of the hospital for a time, as well as the cancellation of all elective surgeries for the day.

Shortly before 6 a.m., Bend fire crews responded to the reported fire at the hospital on Northeast Neff Road, said Deputy Fire Marshal Cindy Kettering. They arrived to find light smoke coming from the lower level of the facility.  A machine used to clean surgical tools caught fire, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman.

A single sprinkler head activated in the area and held the fire in check until crews arrived, Kettering said. There was some smoke and water damage to the lower level of the facility, and fire crews helped clear remaining smoke from the building.  Investigators determined a heating element within the unit had overheated and failed, causing the fire, Kettering said.

As with any alarm at the hospital, numerous Bend firefighters responded to the scene, clearing the area of smoke and water by about 6:40 a.m. No one was injured, Goodman said.  As a result of the fire in the hospital’s central processing area, elective surgeries were canceled for the day, with only emergency procedures to be performed.

The hospital’s lower-level floor, including the in-patient pharmacy, was closed for a time but had reopened by 7:30 a.m. Goodman said the hospital had resumed normal operations and that all scheduled caregivers should report to work as usual.

Kettering said the fire was a clear example of the value of fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems,” which helped to isolate the fire area and quickly move to protect staff and patients. The sprinkler system minimized damage and will allow operations to resume in a timely manner.

“Without a properly maintained and operational fire sprinkler system, the damage from today’s fire would have undoubtedly been far more severe,” Kettering wrote in a news release.

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