Fire at hospital under investigation

By Tom Joyce -

The Mount Airy Fire Department was working Monday to determine the cause of a weekend structural fire at Northern Hospital of Surry County which originated in the hospital laundry room.

It was contained to a large commercial dryer located on the basement floor at the rear of the hospital at 830 Rockford St., but produced a large amount of smoke — nearly causing the evacuation of patients.

Various items such as linens and mop heads were being dried in that device at the time the blaze began around 7:30 p.m. Friday, but fire investigators aren’t sure why it started.

“We’re still working on it today, as a matter of fact,” Mount Airy Fire Chief Zane Poindexter said Monday. He added that Assistant Chief Chris Fallaw, who handles fire marshal functions for the city, was on the scene at the time.

Poindexter said it had not been determined if the fire was accidental in nature, or otherwise.

“Not to this point,” he said, “but we haven’t gotten that far into it now.”

The fire destroyed the large industrial-type dryer involved and caused “a lot of smoke damage,” Poindexter said. The damage was estimated at $10,000.

The fire chief said no patients had to be evacuated as a result. “But it was close.”

Heavy smoke resulted on the lower floor of the hospital in the vicinity of the laundry room.

“And some got into the elevator shaft, but we were able to keep it out of the patient area,” Poindexter said.

He explained that fire personnel on the scene, who numbered 14 and had the situation under control within 10 minutes of arriving, deployed several fans to limit the spread of the smoke.

The high-pressure fans were placed at strategic locations to prevent the smoke from reaching patient rooms and “kept it contained to the elevator shafts,” Poindexter said.

In addition to city firefighters, other resources called for at the scene included the Surry County Emergency Medical Service, Mount Airy Police Department, Mount Airy Rescue Squad and Surry County Fire Marshal’s Office.

No injuries resulted from the blaze.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

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