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Overheated Light Blamed For Care Center’s Fire Call

By Staff | Aug 10, 2011

At 4:21 p.m., July 28, Wetzel County 911 Center received an emergency call from New Martinsville Nursing and Rehabilitation at 225 Russell Avenue for a report of the smell of smoke in the building. As New Martinsville fire units arrived on the scene, they were advised by the 911 Center that they had received a second call from NMNR that there was an apparent fire in the attic near the A & B nurses station.

The first-in firefighters performed a check of the nearly 40,000 square foot building and found there to be no active visible fire but did report the strong smell of smoke near the area of the nurse’s station as previously reported. “The staff had already evacuated A-wing residents to the dining hall and we ordered that the residents of B-Wing also be evacuated as a precautionary measure, for the well-being of the residents,” said New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Larry Couch.

Firefighters performed a secondary search to make sure everyone had been evacuated and accounted for and began to try to isolate the problem. “With the prolonged heat that we have been experiencing and so many possible causes, it became a long process of isolating power supplies, checking and re-checking potential sources, until we were comfortable with what we determined to be the cause of the odor, which appeared to be an overheated light fixture in the area of the nurse’s station,” Couch said.

“The NMNR Staff did an excellent job of evacuating the residents and comforting them while all of this was going on around them. We had the help of so many nearby agencies, and that is critical in any potential large-scale incident such as this,” Couch said.

New Martinsville’s firefighters were assisted by firefighters from Paden City, Sardis, and Clarington, as well as units on standby in Sistersville and Middlebourne. Assistance was also provided by New Martinsville Police Department, Wetzel County EMS, Sistersville EMS, Middlebourne EMS, and Folsom EMS.

The first call was received by the 911 Center at 4:21 p.m., with two fire engines responding at 4:27 and the ladder truck responding at 4:30 p.m. NMVFD Units began arriving at the nursing home at 4:30 p.m. and all were clear from the scene at 6:14 p.m. The approximately 24 resident rooms with 60 beds and numerous ancillary rooms were completely evacuated to safe areas in the nursing home by 4:42 p.m. There were no injuries and no structural damage.