Part of Riverside Community Hospital was evacuated Thursday when malfunctioning equipment in the basement caused smoke to reach the upper floors, disturbing patients but not causing any inhalation problems, officials said.
“It was a minor fire, and there was some smoke,” hospital spokeswoman Cherie Russell told City News Service. “As a precaution, we moved some of our patients and personnel to other areas until the smoke cleared and conditions were declared safe.”
She did not know the exact number of patients and staff who were moved. No one was injured.
According to the Riverside Fire Department, five engine crews and a truck company were sent to the hospital about 10:30 a.m. after calls of a blaze in the basement of the Old Tower.
Battalion Chief Jeff DeLaurie said two dozen firefighters arrived to find evacuations in progress and immediately went into the basement to investigate. He said crews discovered that a “commercial vacuum attached to the wall had overheated and was burning oil residue.”
The smoke was not substantial, but it was enough to drift throughout the tower wards, causing alarm, DeLaurie said.
Russell said hospital staff “relocated patients in the affected areas to other places for their safety and comfort. The evacuation lasted about 45 minutes.”
DeLaurie said a hazardous materials team secured the malfunctioning vacuum, and the basement was declared safe.
Air monitoring devices were used to sample the atmosphere, and there was no exposure threat identified in the hospital.