FLAMES have torn through the entrance at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and today bosses confirmed its badly damaged A&E department will remain closed ‘for the foreseeable future’, writes Graham Walker.
The fire is understood to have broken out in a newsagent’s shop near the main entrance, spreading to the atrium area at the hospital in Calow, Chesterfield.
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Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service battled for three hours to contain the blaze which spread to the first floor and broke through the roof.
There were no casualties but the hospital had to close its A&E to both ambulance patients and walking wounded.
The hospital stressed that no wards had been evacuated, as incorrectly reported on Facebook.
But some patients were transferred to other facilities in the area - including King’s Mill Hospital in Mansfield.
A fire spokesman said 15 patients had been taken to another building as the minor injuries unit was forced to close.
Ten appliances were called to the scene and crews used an aerial platform, water jets and thermal imaging cameras to tackle the blaze.
The first call came after an automatic alarm went off last night at around 9.20pm.
Emergency crews reported the fire was out by 1am - when they began a search for any remaining hot spots.
There was considerable damage to A&E patient reception and the Fracture Clinic, as the fire had spread in to the roof space above these areas, said a hospital spokeswoman.
A&E remains closed until further notice and all 999 patients will be transferred to other available hospitals in the area.
But the hospital reassured relatives with loved ones in hospital that no wards had been evacuated and all patients were safe and secure.
Sarah Turner-Saint, head of communications at Royal Chesterfield Hospital, said the A and E department would remain shut “for the foreseeable future”.
She added: “The good news is that there have been no casualties and we have not had to close any wards.”
An investigation into the cause of the fire will begin later today.
Eric Morton, chief executive of the Chesterfield Royal Hospital, paid tribute to staff and the emergency services who “worked incredibly hard to ensure hospital services have been minimally affected”.
He said: “There is extensive damage to some areas but we will work as quickly as we can to repair this.
“We hope to have services back up to full strength within the next couple of days - albeit with some longer term reconstruction.”
An assessment will be carried out today to establish when the A and E unit and the fracture clinic can reopen, the hospital said.
It also confirmed around 15 stretcher patients were transferred to other facilities in the region as a result of the fire.
Others were moved to a clinic in another part of the hospital to receive treatment.
Three staff members from A&E were sent to work in a minor injuries unit established at the ambulance station at Ashgate, Derbyshire, to ease the workload of the East Midlands Ambulance Service.
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