Basement fire at Summa St. Thomas Hospital forces evacuation, damage being assessed

(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)

AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A 3-alarm fire in the basement of Summa St. Thomas Hospital in Akron forced the evacuation of about 100 patients Friday.

The emergency response to the report of fire was immediate and massive. The streets lined with ambulances and other means to get people out.

St. Thomas is largely a rehabilitation facility physical, addiction and mental so many but not all patients are ambulatory.

"A lot of the patients are able to be moved easier again we have protocols in place so patients that need assistance, we're ready to do that, we train for it we practice it," said hospital spokesman Michael Bernstein.

It worked, there was no rush. There was no raging fire, in large measure just the smoke that could be potentially toxic. Thus the need to get out.

The Akron Fire Department, which is continuing to work inside the building to assess the damage and investigate the cause, also had a plan.

According to spokesman Brody Sadowskie, "It's a process to go in figure what we have figure out how we're best going to extinguish it and at the same time we gotta make sure that everybody's here. We have employees, visitors, patients and make sure all are safe."

Just before noon a warning siren stopped sounding and clean up crews arrived with all kinds of equipment, some used to dry surfaces like carpet, others to clean.

It is a hospital setting so before anyone can go back in surfaces damaged by smoke have got to be sanitized.

St. Thomas is a historical hospital, more than 100 years ago Dr. Bob Smith first recognized alcoholism as a disease and began a program.

Today it is used in recovery by millions. The hospital is also where Alcoholics Anonymous was founded.

Summa Health has established a patient hotline for friends and family of St. Thomas patients at 330.375.7702.

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