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Sheppard Pratt Hospital Building

Alarm Fire Damages Sheppard Pratt Hospital Building

Towson, MD (August 28, 2003) - Lightning struck the five-story cupola of a dormitory at the Sheppard Pratt Health System last night, sparking a four-alarm fire that required the evacuation of 51 psychiatric patients and 10 staff members.

One female patient suffered minor injuries during the evacuation; she was taken to Greater Baltimore Medical Center for treatment. A volunteer firefighter also suffered minor injuries while carrying a hose.

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and Fire Chief John J. Hohman are scheduled to visit Sheppard Pratt at 1:30 p.m. today to survey the damage to the "B Building."

Fire investigators said most of the damage involved the 19th-century cupola at the B Building, which dates back to the 19th century. Though firefighters were able to contain the fire to the cupola, the building below sustained some damage from the heavy volume of water used to extinguish the flames on the roof. Firefighters poured tons of water on the fire from atop two aerial towers parked in front of the burning building.

The patients were temporarily sheltered in Maryland Transit Administration buses and then moved to other hospital buildings on the Sheppard Pratt campus, located off the 6500 block of N. Charles St.

The fire was reported at 7:58 p.m. as a line of severe thunderstorms moved across Maryland. Subsequent alarms were called at 8:06 p.m., 8:41 p.m., and 9:01 p.m. By 9:28 p.m., firefighters had the fire under control.

About 150 firefighters and emergency medical personnel worked at the scene to battle the blaze and provide medical assistance.

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