Fire at NMC quickly extinguished

COVINGTON - A fire broke out on the third floor of Newton Medical Center on Tuesday morning, but was quickly extinguished by Covington Fire Department firefighters.

According to CFD's public information officer, Capt. Rob Christopher, the hospital's automatic alarm system notified dispatchers at 10:22 a.m. Firefighters found a small fire burning inside a wall on the third floor, which is presently undergoing remodeling.

"The fire was small enough that we were able to remove the walls to expose the area that was burning," Christopher said, saying it was extinguished in short order with minimal fire damage and without an abundance of water being used to prevent damage to lower floors.

Firefighters remained on the scene until about noon, but no further damage was reported.

Sharon Barbour, director of publicity and advertising for NMC, said no patients were ever in danger.

"The third floor is not in use at this time. It is closed, and there are no patients on that floor because we are remodeling the patient care area there," she said.

The physical therapy and the cardiopulmonary departments, which are located directly below the construction area, were evacuated, and the air conditioning system was turned off at that end of the building to prevent the spread of smoke, Barbour said.

Jeff Womack, assistant chief of engineering for NMC, said it appeared the fire was ignited from some sparks generated by welding taking place in the construction area. He said the situation was resolved and any needed repairs would be done Wednesday.

Barbour said the area undergoing construction will be a new hospital lab. The space for the present lab, located on the first floor adjacent to the emergency room, will be taken in as part of the planned expansion for the ER.

Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.com