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Batteries possible cause of hospital fire, El Camino Hospital

Patients unharmed by $40,000 blaze


The smoky fire that forced the evacuation of three floors at El Camino Hospital last week began in a supply cabinet on the fourth floor, although its cause is still uncertain, Mountain View Fire Department spokesperson Lynn Brown said Monday.

The Feb. 22 blaze caused $40,000 in fire, water and smoke damage to equipment, according to hospital spokesperson Judy Twitchell.
Patients in the fourth, fifth and sixth floors on the west side of El Camino's bed tower were evacuated to protect them from the fire's smoke.

Fourth-floor patients, who had recently undergone heart procedures and needed constant monitoring , were moved to the second floor and the emergency departments, where there was extra room. Half of these patients have returned to the fourth floor.

Fifth-floor patients, who were recovering from surgeries, and sixth-floor patients, who had medical ailments, went back to their original rooms later on the day of the fire.

None of the patients suffered from effects of the smoke or of the moves, said Twitchell.

"It happened smoothly and quickly, and nobody had to go outside," she added.

Fire investigators suspect the fire started when 9-volt batteries stored in a supply cabinet contacted metal and ignited a flame, said Brown.

"That's the best cause we have right now," he said. "We're trying to go through and be sure."

Brown noted the hospital's alarm system worked well and exactly pinpointed the origin of the fire, which was put out in minutes. Employees who shut the door of the room the fire was in also helped to contain it, he added.

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