Nursing home emptied by smoke Sunday
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
>No one was hurt and no damage was reported after smoke from a heater filter filled the west wing of the center, causing 30 people to be moved next doorSmoke pouring out of a window in the west wing of the Ochoco Care Center early Sunday morning got everyone's attention real fast. Although about 30 of the residents at the nursing home had to be evacuated, there were no injuries and everything went smoothly.
Prineville Fire Chief Bob Schnoor said the call came into the fire hall at about 4:30 a.m. "The report of smoke at the nursing home made everybody's heart beat a little faster."
While some volunteers from the fire department searched for the source of the smoke, others, along with Prineville police officers started evacuating people to the Ochoco Assisted Living Center next door. The snow that covered the bridge between the two buildings was quickly shoveled off and about 30 patients were wheeled over in beds and wheelchairs.
Schnoor said it was a real positive thing to see. "For the whole community to turn out like that. Someone had called the Senior Center and two of their busses showed up in case we had to evacuate people."
It was finally determined that the filters in one of two furnaces that heat the building had been sucked into the bearing housing and started smoking. Schnoor said there wasn't any damage, although it took a while for the smoke odor to clear out. Everything was secured, Schnoor said, by about 8:30. "Just about the time they started serving breakfast at the assisted care center," he added.
Schnoor believed the incident was a good learning experience for the volunteers and police department. "It was a good learning tool for us to learn what it takes in manpower to evacuate such a large facility like that. And to learn that people will come together when needed."
After every major incident, fire department volunteers meet and go over it. Schnoor said it helps "teach us what we did right, what we did wrong and what we could have done better."
No matter how it was handled, the best thing is that everyone turned out quickly, on a cold, early snowy Sunday morning, to help.