Updated: Ambulance Fire Prompts Brief Evacuation of Hospital


An ambulance fire causes hospital officials to scramble and even evacuate patients.

Holdrege fire crews cleaned up and assessed damage at the Phelps Memorial Health Center Sunday morning, after an ambulance fire sent smoke through most of the hospital.

One of two ambulances caught fire in the garage adjacent to the emergency room. Fire officials say lack of space between the vehicles made it hard to tackle the fire.

"Very tight quarters, both of them within two, three feet of each other," said Holdrege Fire Chief Jim Wagner. "It was really hard for us to get to and a lot of smoke, a lot of ugly smoke. The guys done a super job."

Although hospital staff prepare for situations like this, holding monthly fire drills, having it actually happen is a totally new experience.

"Since I've been here it's the first time we've had an actual fire, and you know it's been an experience. I'm very proud of our team for the job they did by evacuating the patients within eight minutes," said Hospital CEO Mark Harrell. "Fortunately we've been able to get patients back in the room relatively soon so that's very positive. The team really handled this well."

Harrell said though that one ambulance is a total loss and the other sustained heavy smoke damage. He estimated the damage at $500,000.

An electrical problem in one of the ambulances is believed to have caused the fire, which started near the vehicle's battery.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.