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Fire at Salem Health ignites heavy emergency response

By Kaitlyn Wimmer

At 6:40 a.m. on Thursday Aug. 8, fire alarms sounded inside Salem Health as a three-alarm fire started in an elevator shaft in the south side of Building B, according to Deputy Chief of Operations of Salem Fire, Brett Loomis and President and CEO of Salem Health, Cheryl Wolfe.

After alarms sounded, between 55 and 60 emergency personnel responded to the flames; the large response was due to the designation of Salem Health as “critical infrastructure,” according to Loomis.

50 patients were evacuated from the south side of Building B and relocated to the north side of the building with no injuries being reported at the time. According to Wolfe, the patient evacuation’s proper execution and the functionality of Salem Health’s fire suppression system played a role in the prevention of injuries. She said Salem Health was cancelling many non-urgent procedures for the day and urged patients to call before coming in.

According to Wolfe, the origin of the fire is currently unknown, but an investigation is underway. While floors four, five and six were affected by the flames and the extent of the damage is yet to be determined, Wolfe said that Salem Health is concerned about smoke and water damage from the fire suppression system.

Winter St. was blocked off until approximately 12:00 p.m.

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