Electrical fire at NCH Downtown hospital causes havoc

Firefighters respond to a fire at Naples Community Hospital in Naples on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. Tristan Spinski/Staff

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Firefighters respond to a fire at Naples Community Hospital in Naples on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. Tristan Spinski/Staff

Naples Community Hospital

350 7th Street North, Naples, FL

— A “major electrical malfunction” at NCH Downtown Naples hospital started a fire that spread to three floors Tuesday afternoon and left the entire hospital operating on generator power.

It could be days before the source of the malfunction is identified and the damage is repaired. However, the hospital’s generator system is “top-notch,” Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny said, so patients should not be adversely affected.

Firefighters were dispatched to the hospital at 12:47 p.m. after receiving several 911 calls, McInerny said. The first unit was on scene within five minutes.

The electrical malfunction appears to have spread from a first floor electrical room up to the second and third floors, McInerny said. Flames were seen on the exterior of the building’s second floor, and firefighters encountered thick black smoke on the third floor.

McInerny called fighting the “major electrical malfunction” a “perilous situation.”

“Water and electrical just don’t mix,” he said.

More than two dozen Naples and North Naples firefighters arrived on scene to battle the blaze. Hospital employees gathered on the north side of the hospital. Naples police temporarily closed a portion of Fourth Avenue North to traffic.

“Patients have not been moved or impacted,” NCH spokeswoman Debbie Curry said.

Firefighters had the blaze under control around 1:30 p.m. and extinguished around 2 p.m., McInerny said. No one was injured.

The hospitals electricians will have to work with Florida Power & Light employees to identify the cause of the fire, find out what’s been damaged and make repairs.

“My initial inclination is, they’ll be on generator power for at least 24 hours,” McInerny said. “That could go on to a couple of days or more.”

Connect with Ryan Mills at www.naplesnews.com/staff/ryan-mills/

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