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HOPEWELL, Va. – Parts of the Wellness Pavilion at John Randolph Medical Center were evacuated Tuesday evening, over a fire that started in an HVAC unit.

“Upon arrival we had black smoke coming out of the window right above the center of the building on the 2nd floor,” said Hopewell Fire Chief Donny Hunter.

Video showed the black smoke and fire coming from the unit located just below the window.

“We went inside and met with security and maintenance, who were inside, we used extinguishers on the inside to put out the fire on the heating unit that was under the window,” said Chief Hunter. “We used a hand line for the exterior part of it.”

“This is an extraordinary case, where we had to have 27 patients physically leave the building,” said John Randolph Medical Center CEO Joe Mazzo.

Chief Hunter applauded their efforts.

“Just good nursing skills of people that worked that floor that understood the urgency of moving them and were able to move the patients in a quick manner,” Hunter said.

Ambulances stacked up to help with transport but the police and sheriff’s office were also called.

“Eighteen, I believe were able to go by ambulance because they were self-committed to the hospital,” said Chief of Police John Keohane. ‘Teen were [Temporary Detention Orders] TDO’s, under a court order so again those 10 needed to have law enforcement, sheriff’s office involved in their transport.”

Mazzo said sister HCA facilities quickly helped with receiving the patients.

“It’s challenging to move any type of patients but the behavioral health patients was a sensitive subject and so we had to make sure their safety and and security was an utmost priority,” Mazzo said.

The second floor should partially open on Friday, but the patients who were transferred will probably not return.

Some said now is the time for a debrief to go over what worked and what did not.

“Hospital had a great plan, police have a great plan and we have a great plan,” said Captain Steven Kephart with the Hopewell Sheriff’s Office.

“We all probably need to get together at some point and make it one plan,” he added.

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