Sprinklers Quell Fires Set by Streaker in Clyde, NC, Hospital

May 20, 2024
Junaluska and Clyde firefighters helped clean up the water that damaged the emergency and radiology departments.

May 19—A Saturday fire reportedly caused by a streaker at Haywood Regional Medical Center led to severe water damage in the emergency and radiology departments.

When the Junaluska Fire Department arrived at Haywood Regional Medical Center on Saturday, the emergency prompting the call — a fire — had already been put out.

"Luckily, the sprinklers did exactly what they were supposed to do," said Dylan Williams, a captain with the Junaluska Fire Department.

The incident began after an out-of-county individual was picked up off Interstate 40 and transported to hospital by Emergency Medical Services, said Andrew Messer, Haywood County fire marshal.

"He ended up going into a bathroom and setting a small fire that was enough to set off a sprinkler head," Messer said. "He continued to make his way across the hospital to radiology, where another sprinkler head popped."

After removing his clothes and making laps through several floors at the hospital, the individual was arrested without incident, Messer said.

Though the fire was extinguished soon after the 11:30 p.m. alarm, plenty of work remained as firefighters helped swamp out the hospital area near the emergency department.

"We thought we were responding to a chemical fire, but when we were on the way, the dispatcher advised us the fire popped the sprinkler head," Williams said. "When we got there, the fire was out, but we helped with shutting off the water and mitigating the event."

That mitigation included staying on the scene until 3 a.m. to help clear out all the water that spewed from two popped sprinkler heads.

"There was a lot of damage," Messer said. "I have a feeling that will be a very, very large insurance claim. From the fire side, it was not that bad. Fire was the means he (the patient) used to pop the sprinkler heads.

Chris Brown, Haywood Regional Medical Center CEO, wasn't able to speak about the cause of the fire due to hospital privacy and confidentiality policies.

"However, I can confirm that the fire alarm and sprinkler systems were activated as a safety measure. Fortunately, there were no injuries, and our staff responded promptly and efficiently to ensure everyone's safety," Brown said.

Preliminary evaluations indicate that some areas of the hospital experienced severe water damage, he said. The primary damage was in nonpatient care locations, he added.

A phased plan to repair the damage has been outlined, and work began Thursday.

"During the phased remediation plan, there may be an impact on the availability of some emergency department rooms. However, it is our priority to minimize this impact and ensure any disruptions are brief and necessary," Brown said. "Although some departments experienced damage, we are thankful that hospital operations aren't largely impacted and the accessibility to care remains unaffected."

Eight responders from the Junaluska Fire Department, along with personnel from the Waynesville and Clyde fire departments and Haywood EMS tackled the emergency, Williams said.


(c)2024 The Mountaineer (Waynesville, N.C.)

Visit The Mountaineer (Waynesville, N.C.) at themountaineer.villagesoup.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!