Mechanical equipment exploded in a basement chimney shaft of Bridgepoint hospital (223 Seventh St NE) around 1 pm Thursday, DC Fire Emergency Medical Services (DC FEMS) said on scene.
A DCFEMS spokesperson said “mechanical equipment” exploded in the basement chimney shaft, travelling through the chimney to the roof. “There was nothing nefarious,” he said.
Two people, both Bridgepoint employees, sustained non-life-threatening injuries, said DC FEMS Chief John A. Donnelly Sr. Both were treated on scene; one declined further treatment, while the other was transferred to hospital.
None of the patients were injured, Donnelly said. “They were moved to other parts of the building by hospital staff, following hospital procedure –they did a really good job.”
Bridgepoint CEO Marc C. Ferrell said there were 150-160 patients in the hospital at the time of the incident, with an average age in their mid-60s. Many are on mechanical ventilation and undergoing rehabilitation, he said, some from COVID-19; others are in pallative care.
Ferrell thanked DC FEMS for their quick response and said the facility was waiting for health licensing and DCRA officials to come in and inspect the facility to ensure patients could remain in their beds.
A fire official said initial reports of an exploding generator were not accurate. There was no fire, he said, although firefighters arriving on scene found smoke in the basement. He said the fire officials were still “working out “ which mechanical equipment suffered the explosion.
“It’s way too early to speculate,” Donnelly said, asked which equipment had caused the explosion, saying he would leave that matter to investigation by the Fire Marshal. Fire officials were finding cinder blocks on every floor, he said.
Damage is cosmetic, rather than structural and the hospital continues to operate with electricity and all utilities. Patients will not need to be evacuated, although many of them will be re-located on their floors.
“At this point, all the systems in the hospital are still working,” Donnelly said. “The nurses here, the doctors here are still taking care of the patients. If they were close to the area, they have been relocated to other rooms.”
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) was on the scene and said the reponse of DC FEMS was fast. Allen said next steps would wait until after DC FEMS had completed their investigation.
“The most important thing is that all the patients are safe,” Allen said. “That is our highest priority, and I really applaud the staff for moving so quickly.”