120 patients evacuated in hospital fire

Fire crews at Altnagelvin Hospital.

Around 120 patients have been evacuated at Altnagelvin Hospital in Co Londonderry after a fire broke out on the roof on Friday evening.

Friday, 23 November 2012
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The hospital has been closed to all but emergency cases following the blaze, which was reported at around 6.20pm.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust said seven wards were evacuated during the incident which is "now under control".

"The majority of patients have been accommodated onsite and a small number of patients have been moved to other appropriate health and care settings in Londonderry," the Trust said.

One patient from the Fermanagh area was transferred to the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

It is not yet known how the fire started, but it is understood it began on the roof of the 11 storey building.

Fire crews, including 49 firefighters and 11 fire engines, were joined on site by police and the ambulance service.

Derry City Council and Translink also assisted the emergency services, while hospitals throughout Northern Ireland and Donegal were put on standby to receive patients from Altnagelvin.

I would like to thank all the emergency services and our staff who acted swiftly to bring the situation under control.

Trust Chairman Gerard Guckian

Chairman of the Trust, Gerard Guckian, said all patients are "comfortable and safe".

"Ward Managers are in the process of contacting family and relatives of those patients that have been relocated as a result of the incident," he said.

All planned operations have been cancelled on Saturday.

"There is controlled access to the site and only in an emergency will access be permitted. Visitors should not come on site until further notice," said a Trust spokesperson.

UTV Reporter Mark McFadden, who was at the scene, explained: "The fire was quickly brought under control but the hospital grounds remain sealed off and only emergency access is allowed."

John McPoland, spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, said a major incident was declared shortly after 7.30pm.

"NIAS was alerted that, although the fire was contained within a relatively small area, other wards had been affected by smoke and water damage," he said.

Health Minister Edwin Poots has praised the emergency services.

"I have been receiving regular updates on the situation in Altnagelvin and, while I understand that it has been difficult for patients who have been evacuated, I am relieved to hear that no one has been injured," he said.

"I would like to thank NIFRS, the Ambulance Service, PSNI and hospital staff for their swift reaction to dealing with this fire."

Anyone who has concerns about the fire can call a helpline number set up by the Trust on 028 7129 6202 or 028 7129 6204 on Saturday from 8am to 12pm.

The cause of the fire will be investigated.