Mizell forced to evacuate

Published 11:59 pm Monday, August 3, 2009

A fire in a Mizell Memorial Hospital mechanical room caused officials to evacuate hospital patients Sunday night.

Capt. Cory Spurlin of the Opp Fire Department said firefighters were called to the hospital at 10:48 p.m.

“What we found was that they had a fire in the mechanical room of the service elevator in the basement,” Spurlin said. “It started there and we were able to contain it to that room.

“But it smoked up the basement, second and third floor of the hospital and we were required to evacuate patients to the lobby area,” he said.

Spurlin said the heavy smoke and acidic smell were created when hydraulic fluid in the elevator’s system “boiled over.”

“It took a while for us to get that smoke out of the building,” he said. “It’s a large building.”

Firefighters did not leave the scene until 3 a.m. Monday.

Hospital administrator Allen Foster said the first patients moved were those admitted to the geriatric psychiatric unit.

“That unit is located right about where the fire was, so those patients and the others were moved to the lobby and in front of the hospital until the situation was under control,” Foster said. “We were ready to (vacate the site) in case the fire spread, but thankfully, it didn’t.”

Foster said patients were returned to the hospital rooms by 4:30 a.m. and members of the hospital staff called to the scene were dismissed at 5 a.m.

Spurlin said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

In addition to the fire at the hospital, Opp firefighters were called out almost simultaneously to investigate a smell of smoke at the local Taco Bell.

However, Spurlin said when fire fighters arrived, they could find no sign of a fire.

Units from the Babbie and Onycha volunteer fire departments, as well as Opp police officers and members of the Covington County Sheriff’s Office, assisted during the incident.