A man suffered severe burns and part of the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital was cleared out after a small explosion at the facility on Sunday morning.
According to the Saskatoon Fire Department, crews were dispatched to the facility’s emergency room at around 2 a.m. after a man tried to smoke while he was receiving oxygen.
As a result, a small explosion occurred resulting in the man receiving burns to roughly 25 per cent of his upper body.
When crews arrived at the facility, hospital staff had already begun to evacuate patients to other areas of the hospital and had terminated the oxygen supply for the affected area.
Security staff at the hospital had started to contain the fire using an on-site fire extinguisher and the blaze was completely extinguished once fire crews arrived on scene.
Steve Brissaw, a battalion chief with the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD), didn’t have an update on the man’s condition, but said the man was attempting to smoke in a non-smoking area.
He says staff at the hospital did a good job reacting to the incident, noting things may have been worse had they not taken action.
“The hospital staff are trained for small incidents like this and they reacted quite well and quickly, possibly resulting in less injury to the patient,” said Brissaw.
He said while the SFD does not recommend people put themselves at risk, in this instance, staff reacted appropriately.
He explained this isn’t the first fire of this type the SFD has responded to.
“Typically the people that are on oxygen for treatment have been, in the past, smokers and sometimes they have trouble giving up the habit,” he said. “Unfortunately, smoking or lighting a lighter anywhere near an oxygen supply is extremely risky and not recommended.”
Alongside notification from the hospital’s fire alarm, the SFD also received communication from the hospital about the fire.
Crews searched the area to ensure the fire had not spread and were able to remove the remaining smoke and toxins using the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
No children were present
A statement from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) indicated the man suffered “serious injuries” as a result of the fire and explosion.
The statement indicates the blast took place in the Royal University Hospital’s Emergency Department, which is co-located alongside the children’s ER at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital.
No children were present at the time of the explosion.
Cleanup is underway in the affected area and an assessment of other areas in the hospital that may have been affected was done immediately. Normal operations resumed for the majority of the ER shortly after the incident.
The adult emergency department remains open and no other units were affected by the incident.
The statement from the SHA said the agency’s thoughts are with the patient and his family, but they were unable to provide further updates on his condition.
The SHA also extended thanks to staff at the hospital for their actions to limit the impact of the fire and the Saskatoon Fire Department for their quick response and support.
The damage is estimated at about $1,000 and a fire investigator has determined the cause of the fire to be accidental.