Wexford General Hospital fire declared ‘major incident’ as full evacuation takes place
Seven units from Wexford fire service were joined by crews from neighbouring counties in battling the significant blaze
A major incident has been declared at Wexford General Hospital where firefighters continue to battle a major blaze which broke out there just before 4pm this afternoon.
With up to 100 people having been evacuated from the affected part of the building earlier on this evening, just after 6pm the decision was taken to evacuate the entire hospital, with more than 200 patients set to be dispersed among other hospitals in the south east and further north to Dublin.
A spokesperson for the Ireland East Hospital Group confirmed that thankfully there were no injuries reported throughout the course of the incident and that a significant logistical operation was now under way to see patients accommodated in both public and private hospitals across the country, including Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin.
ICU patients were accommodated first and spaces have been found for them in neighbouring hospitals.
Seven units from Wexford fire service were joined by crews from neighbouring counties in battling the significant blaze which broke out in a machinery room near the roof of the older part of the hospital building shortly before 4pm.
Specialised high-reach appliances were required to tackle the flames which threatened to spread to other parts of the hospital.
"We had hazards like flammable gas and oxygen on site,” Ray Murphy of Wexford Fire Service said.
“We got them cut off and we dealt with the fire from the roof. But it spread to the roof of adjacent buildings. Thankfully, we were able to stop it there and it didn’t go down through the building."
Plumes of thick black smoke were sent all across Wexford town and Wexford County Council issued a warning to those living in the area to close windows and doors and urged people to avoid the hospital.
In the Emergency Department, those who were not in desperate need and were not suffering symptoms like chest pains etc. were asked to leave.
"Evacuation took place early, which was a good decision on the hospital’s part,” Mr Murphy said.
“They evacuated the on call rooms and staff rooms on the fourth floor and also St Pat’s and St Catherine’s Wards, which includes paediatrics. We also evacuated Mary's ward and ICU was also evacuated. In total, there were upwards of 100 people in that area.”
However, Mr Murphy also confirmed that shortly after 6pm the decision had been taken to evacuate the hospital as a whole as the scene was declared a “major incident”.
“They’re now going to evacuate the whole building because some of the critical plant has been knocked out due to the fire and the hospital can’t function as normal.”
An incident room has been set up with representatives from the HSE, the Fire Service, an Garda Síochána and Wexford County Council all present.
A spokesperson for the hospital was able to confirm that, as of 7pm, the blaze was largely under control, but that the fire service would remain at the scene overnight as a precaution. They added that there was significant damage to the hospital building, something which will be further assessed in the hours and days ahead.
In the meantime, gardaí and hospital management have asked members of the public to avoid the area.
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