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Smoke brought quickly under control at MeadowView Terrace

SoVaNow.com / September 18, 2019
Area firefighters were dispatched to Sentara MeadowView Terrace in Clarksville around 4:40 p.m. Sunday after the 911 call center received a report of smoke coming from a closed wing of the senior living center.

According to Clarksville Fire Chief Johnny Shriver, the fire was limited to a spa chair located in a wing of the building known as Finch Lane, which currently has no residents. Crews quickly got the situation under control and ventilated smoke from the Finch wing and two adjacent resident wings that were minimally impacted by smoke from the fire.

The exact cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Firefighters conducted a sweep of the entire building checking rooms, bathrooms, closets and hallways to ensure no one was left behind before they worked to extinguish the minor blaze and eradicate the smoke.

Volunteers with the Clarksville, Boydton, Chase City and Midway fire departments and EMS personnel with the Mecklenburg County Lifesaving and Rescue Squad and Boydton Rescue Squad responded to the scene.

Shriver praised the staff of MeadowView Terrace for promptly evacuating the residents from the facility as a precaution ahead of the firefighters’ arrival. “They did a great job of removing residents from the building and accounting for all residents,” Shriver said.

Acting Administrator Sharon Barnes said the incident posed no real threat of harm to MeadowView residents because the building is outfitted with fire doors that close and lock as soon as smoke, fire or other potentially dangerous situations are detected, and the staff is trained for handling such emergencies.

Residents remained outside the building for about an hour, according to Shriver, until firefighters felt it was safe to return. Residents of two wings, Honeysuckle and Periwinkle, also had to wait until firefighters were able to dissipate the smoke that seeped into those areas.

Two MeadowView Terrace staff members who discovered the fire were checked out for smoke inhalation but released by EMS, and two residents were also treated for minor abrasions. Shriver said he did not know if those injuries were related to the fire. No other injuries were reported.

A statement released by Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital on social media Sunday said that, “This evening, Sunday Sept. 15 at approximately 6 p.m., Sentara MeadowView Terrace experienced a small facility fire on a closed unit called Finch Lane. Local fire and rescue responded quickly, and the fire was extinguished with minimal damage and no need for evacuation. Please know, the safety of our residents and our members of the team is of primary importance to us. As such, our residents’ health and safety were not impacted in any way as a result of this incident.”

When asked where the hospital received its information for the statement, Sentara spokesperson Faith O’Neil said the facts for the release were provided by Michael Thomas, Facilities Manager for Sentara Halifax Regional, who according to O’Neil was on site at the time of the fire. O’Neil also explained that the reason the press statement said no evacuation took place is because their definition of evacuation means that residents “are removed to a different facility,” not merely removed from the building for any span of time.

An amended statement released by the hospital Monday afternoon read as follows:

“On Sunday, Sept. 15 at approximately 4:41 p.m., Sentara MeadowView Terrace experienced a small facility fire on a closed unit called Finch Lane. Local fire and rescue responded quickly, and the fire was extinguished with minimal damage and no need for evacuation from the premises.

“Standard fire protocol was followed, and residents were temporarily moved outdoors while the facility was searched and deemed safe for reentry. The safety of our residents and our members of the team is of primary importance to us. As such, our residents’ health and safety were not impacted in any way as a result of this incident.”

The statement also noted that the time of the fire was first reported as being at 6 p.m. Sunday on the hospital’s Facebook page, and took responsibility for the inaccuracy.

“We would like to thank the staff of Sentara MeadowView Terrace and Boydton Fire Department, Clarksville Fire Department, Chase City Fire Department, Midway Fire Department, Mecklenburg Rescue Squad, Boydton Rescue Squad, Clarksville Police Department and Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Department for their fast response to this emergent situation,” the updated social media post stated.

“Our investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.”

The afternoon incident was the second time Clarksville firefighters were dispatched to MeadowView Terrace on Sunday. Earlier that day, around 10 a.m., Shriver said they were called to the facility after someone reported “a strange odor” in the auditorium where a number of the residents were attending church.

Shriver said they checked the vents, electrical systems, and surrounding areas but found no sign of fire or smoke or any other dangerous condition at that time. The fire in the spa chair is in a different location from the auditorium, and Shriver did not believe there was any connection between the two incidents.

On Monday the smell of smoke still lingered in the air in Finch Lane, but workers with Servpro, a fire restoration company, and MeadowView Terrace staff were busy cleaning floors and furniture in the wing.

Sentara MeadowView Terrace and the Clarksville Volunteer Fire Department thanked area firefighters and rescue personnel and members of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office and Clarksville Police Department who assisted them.

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