UMC Still Cleaning Up After Thursday's Fire

University Medical Center is still working to clean up after Thursday's fire, and only the cancer center is still closed.
By Monica Yantosh

LUBBOCK, TX -- University Medical Center is still working to clean up after Thursday's fire, and only the cancer center is still closed.

Eric Finley with UMC said they believe the fire to have started when someone working on a water line hit an oxygen line, which caused a spark. There is only one office that has fire damage to it, most of the damage was smoke damage through a few different units.

The fire was in the Endoscopy Unit, which is currently being housed in the Outpatient Surgery Center while their office is being cleaned.

"Flames came down the ceiling, from above where they were working, came down the ceiling into this unit, and then started spreading smoke into other portions of the hospital," Finley said.

The smoke caused the Endoscopy Unit, Outpatient Unit, Southwest Cancer Center, and Emergency Room to all close Thursday. The ER reopened after being on diversion for about tow hours. The cancer center is still closed, and will hopefully be open again on Monday.

Finley said the smoke traveled quickly because the oxygen line that caught fire connects into the cancer center, where some patients were hooked up at the time for treatment.

"The first thing to do was to shut down that one oxygen line, and make sure that fire didn't spread to other areas of the building, so that was done. The second thing is to get those patients off of that line," Finley said. Those patients were then put on mobile tanks and evacuated. With those portable tanks, the chemotherapy patients were able to finish their treatments outside.

Finley said they have to do emergency drills at least twice a year, but usually do them more often than that. They also all tend to check in with each other, to make sure all departments are aware how to keep their patients and staff safe in case of an emergency.

"We also round on all the floors, directors will round in areas where they don't actually work, and just talk to the staff and say 'Hey, do you know what to do in a fire? Do you know where to take your patients to evacuate?' and so we try to keep that top of mind, because just like yesterday, you never know when it's going to happen," Finley said.

Finley said anyone planning to receive treatment at the cancer center on Monday should call ahead first to make sure the center is open and that appointments are on time. They can be reached at (806)775-8600.

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