North Charleston Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that displaced all residents of the White Oak Manor nursing home Saturday afternoon.
The department received a call just after 2 p.m. and saw smoke coming from the back of the square shaped building when they arrived.
Firefighters immediately assisted nursing home employees in evacuating some 172 residents and had the fire under control in roughly 30 minutes, according to Bianca Sancic, the North Charleston Fire Department public information officer. A staff member sent to the hospital for smoke inhalation was the only reported injury, Sancic said.
Deborah Simon arrived at White Oak Manor during the evacuation minutes after her mother was brought out to the parking lot.
“They did a beautiful job,” Simon said, “There were a lot of people.”
Rescue personnel and employees spent several hours finding residents a temporary home.
About 117 of the residents were taken to the Trident Medical Center directly across the street. By 4:30 p.m. employees were mopping water from the floor and remaining residents were temporarily allowed to enter the front wing of the nursing home after an air quality test came back clean, Sancic said.
Simon was allowed to return to the nursing home with her mother and saw water two to three inches deep in some areas and holes in the ceiling and knew they wouldn’t be staying there, she said.
When workers were unable to bring the sprinkler system back online all residents were relocated, Sancic said.
Ambulance crews took patients to nursing homes in Charleston and Mount Pleasant. The CEO of the nursing home wouldn’t take questions but said he hoped the home would reopen today.
A majority of the nursing home residents, employees and their families were still waiting in Trident’s cafeteria at 9 p.m. while hospital staff worked to admit them.
Bob Behanian, Trident Health System director of public relations, expected all 117 residents to be placed in a bed, bringing the hospital close to its 296-bed capacity.
About 50 North Charleston firefighters responded and were supported by the Old Fort Fire Department as well as a number of ambulance services including Charleston County Emergency Medical Service.