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Thu. Dec 25th 2014
Wheelchair fire forces nursing home’s evacuationby KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor, Amherst Bee An electric wheelchair caught fire on Christmas night, forcing the evacuation of about 45 resi...
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Call History
Wheelchair fire forces nursing home’s evacuation
Thu. Dec 25th 2014

Wheelchair fire forces nursing home’s evacuation

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor, Amherst Bee 

An electric wheelchair caught fire on Christmas night, forcing the evacuation of about 45 residents through smoke-filled halls at St. Francis of Williamsville.

Williamsville firefighters responded to the nursing home facility, located at 147 Reist St. in the Village of Williamsville, at about 9 p.m. Thursday and found heavy smoke conditions in one of the wings of the building.

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The nursing home is managed by Catholic Health.


Williamsville Fire Department Chief Michael Measer requested assistance from the Main-Transit and Snyder fire departments.

Upon their investigation, firefighters found an electric wheelchair in a resident’s room had caught fire and was being extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system. Both residents inside the room were able to evacuate.

According to Measer, the incident was originally alerted to fire departments because of a fire alarm activation at the facility.

The fire was placed under control by firefighters in 24 minutes. Measer said the sprinkler system, which had been updated in the past 16 months, was an essential part of extinguishing the fire and preventing serious injuries.

“This type of incident is our worst nightmare for emergency responders, coupled with it being on Christmas Day night,” Measer said. “We are relieved that the sprinkler system did its job and made our job easier.”

He said that after the residents were evacuated, each was evaluated by Williamsville, Main-Transit andSnyder firefighters as well as Twin City Ambulance personnel.

Measer said three people — two residents and a staff member — were transported to area hospitals for minor injuries. All remaining staff and residents returned to the facility. One of the residents and the staff member were treated at the hospital and released Thursday night.

Additionally, Measer said the situation could have been much worse if not for the dedication of area emergency responders.

“The combined efforts of our firefighters and the army of Amherst police officers that responded to assist in evacuations of residents from the smoke-filled wing saved lives,” Measer said.

According to Amherst Fire Control, damage to the facility is estimated at about $35,000 — $15,000 to the structure and an additional $20,000 to the contents.

Fire damage was confined to the room where the fire originated.

JoAnn Cavanaugh, director of public relations for Catholic Health, said that as of Monday, staff members were cleaning the smoke and water damage from the wing in which the fire originated.

She said all of the residents are at the building, but people who reside in the affected wing have been moved to another part of the facility.

9 entries in the Call History

9 entries in the Call History

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