Austintown nursing home evacuated after small fire

Briarfield at Ashley Circle, Nov. 2, 2015
Residents of the Briarfield at Ashley Circle nursing home are evacuated after a fire breaks out above a laundry room on Nov. 2, 2015

AUSTINTOWN TWP, Ohio (WKBN) – Four fire departments responded to a call for a fire at a skilled nursing facility in Austintown on Monday morning.

About 90 people were at Briarfield at Ashley Circle when the 9-1-1 call went out, and getting everyone out of the building as quickly as possible was the main goal.

Staff at Briarfield and firefighters from Austintown, Weathersfield, Canfield and the Youngstown fire departments helped with the evacuation at 7 a.m. Monday. No one was injured in the fire, and the cause is yet unknown.

According to the Austintown Fire Chief Andy Frost Jr. the fire began in the ceiling and on the roof above a dryer unit in the laundry area of the facility, causing extensive damage to mechanical equipment in the building.

“The fire started above the dryers. We have no ideas if it actually started in the roof of the dryers, so we don’t know if it’s electrical or what it is at this point,” Frost said.

Firefighters who were at the scene first said there was a lot of smoke and flames. The fire was out 45 minutes after crews arrived.

Austintown Chief Frost said that was no easy task.

“We needed help,” he said. “There was a lot of smoke. A lot of fire. And evacuating this amount of patients, we needed as much manpower as possible.”

Many residents were seen covered in sheets to keep them warm. They were outside for less than an hour before being allowed back into unaffected areas of the building.

Diane Reese, owner of Briarfield at Ashley Circle, said the staff was prepared for such an event, so they were able to evacuate everyone quickly and safety, and get them back into the building without much of a wait.

“Our staff does evacuation drills, and we do fire drills on a regular basis, so everyone responded quickly and very organized this morning,” she said.

Melissa Thake’s uncle stays at the facility. When she heard about the fire, she rushed to Austintown with questions running through her head.

“How bad is the building? Are they going to have to move him or transport him?” Melissa said she remembered thinking.

Because the fire happened at a nursing facility, the State Fire Marshal’s office and the Board of Health was notified.

Damage is contained to where the fire happened. Reese said a contractor was there on Monday to see what needs repaired and fixed.

Reese said staff called residents’ family members to let them know what happened and planned on touching base with them again this afternoon. She said there was no need to displace the residents.

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