Fire at New Taipei City hospital forces 390 to evacuate

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Nov 20, 2012 - Page 3

A pre-dawn fire broke out at a hospital in New Taipei City (新北市) yesterday, forcing about 390 people to evacuate, but no injuries or deaths were reported, according to the New Taipei Fire Department.

The blaze at the private Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Banciao District (板橋) also resulted in six emergency ward patients being transferred to other hospitals, said the fire department, which was informed of the fire at 1:23am.

It was the second hospital fire within a month, following one at the Beimen Branch of the Department of Health-run Sinying Hospital in Greater Tainan on Oct. 23, which left 12 people dead and more than 70 injured.

Far Eastern Memorial Hospital said the fire started at its magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) room, damaging the MRI system’s computer mainframe, but not the machine.

The hospital said it was surprised that a fire would break out in that part of the hospital because the MRI machine had just been inspected and maintained two days earlier.

Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) visited the hospital after the incident and asked all hospitals to strengthen maintenance of their advanced medical equipment.

Chiu said that emergency response capabilities at night must be a focus of hospital evaluations.

He also urged Far Eastern Memorial Hospital to continue to strengthen its emergency response procedures, while commending it for its efforts early in the morning.

The hospital said all 390 people in the hospital were evacuated within 20 minutes, consistent with its fire drills. The fire department said the fire was likely caused by a short circuit in the MRI room, but it said further investigation was needed to be sure.

Meanwhile, New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) has asked related agencies to find out the cause of the incident.