The 85 or so residents of the Village Creek Rehabilitation Center in Lumberton were evacuated briefly after smoke was observed in the building.
On Friday, June 15, a member of staff was walking toward the nurses’ station when they noticed smoke in the hallway. Lumberton Fire Chief Jeff McNeel said that person took action, pulled the fire alarm, and began evacuating residents.
McNeel said by the time the fire department arrived, there was an active evacuation in process. When Fire and EMS arrived, they began to look for the source of the smoke and helped facilitate the evacuation while ensuring the well-being of the residents.
McNeel said it was determined that a light ballast had overheated and caused smoke inside the building.
“We made sure all of the circuit was isolated so there would be no further hazard,” he said. They are still actively investigating the incident.
When the building was clear, the residents were moved back into the hallways first and then back into their rooms. They were medically evaluated before the first responders left. “Every person was medically evaluated,” said McNeel.
McNeel explained that the elderly do not tolerate heat well and they took that into consideration during the incident. They made certain that they had an alternate location in place to take the residents in case they were not able to go back in the building in a short amount of time. “We try to diminish their heat stress, keep them in the shade, and keep them hydrated.” They were moved back in to the air conditioning as soon as it was possible.
Other agencies showed up to assist. “LPD showed up in full force, Acadian with EMS resources showed up, we worked with those agencies and the staff and the focus was the safety and well-being of all of the residents,” said McNeel.