Cleveland Fire Department Fire Marshal Ben Atchley said the incident occurred just after 3 a.m. Thursday, when a person at the emergency area of the hospital who was there for a psychological evaluation apparently used a lighter to set his stretcher and clothing atop the stretcher on fire. The 62-year-old male had hidden the lighter, and it was undetected when he was being evaluated, Atchley explained.
“When the fire occurred, the sprinkler system went off, the alarm at the hospital went off and the emergency area was evacuated,” the fire marshal explained. “The emergency area was inundated with water and they closed that area, but the emergency department remained in service.”
The fire department responded, and while personnel at the medical facility put the fire out with a portable fire extinguisher, there was still smoke in that area. Fans were set up by the CFD to remove the smoke. No injuries occurred in the fire, and the man remained in psychiatric care. “I have a warrant for him for aggravated arson once he is released from that care, but do not feel comfortable identifying him until that time,” Atchley said.
Atchley said the quick response by security and hospital personnel prevented the fire from becoming a bigger emergency. “They did a great job, and just clicked into another gear,” the fire marshal said. “We responded to the alarm, but found that they had put the fire out, though we were still there to help with removing the smoke from the area.”
He noted that the hospital had continuous training and drills to respond to such incidents. Stephanie Austin, assistant administrator and marketing at Tennova, said she is proud of the work done by staff at the hospital, and appreciates the response from the Cleveland Fire Department.
“No patients were injured,” she confirmed. “There is no fire damage to the area but water damage from the sprinkler system requires some rooms be closed for a short time to be repaired. “We are focused on ensuring the care of our patients is not interrupted, and thank the fire department and our staff for their fast response,” Austin stated.