MO,17/3/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The engineering team from Hospital Kuala Lumpur prevented a larger disaster from happening when they removed 163 oxygen tanks from storage close to the room where a fire had broken out. The 12.20pm fire on Saturday, which was mainly contained to the National Institute of Forensic Medicine storage room where it started, could have been much worse if it had spread to 163 oxygen tanks stored in another room nearby.
City Fire and Rescue Department director Khirudin Drahman said the quick action of the hospital’s engineering team to move the tanks and shut off the electricity and the oxygen pipelines avoided a larger disaster. He added that a short circuit is believed to have sparked off the fire at the storeroom. “It was fortunate that today is also Saturday so only two people were working in the building – a technician and a cleaner.
“During the fire, the two women, both in their 40s, went up to the roof as smoke was blocking their exit. “We managed to get to them via an external staircase that was padlocked. They were not hurt,” he said when met at the scene. Patients and staff were evacuated from nearby buildings in an orderly fashion. “The patients in these buildings are not critical so most were able to walk out. Some who couldn’t were wheeled out on beds and wheelchairs,” he said.
Normal hospital operations resumed shortly after the fire was put out at around 1.30pm. “We are now working to restore electricity and oxygen supply. “Some biochemical materials, including 19 cadavers were also moved during the fire as the storage freezers had been shut off,” he said, adding that the morgue suffered some slight smoke and heat damage. The fire is believed to have started in the storeroom on the ground floor where equipment such as surgical gloves and cotton used in post-mortems were kept.
“The materials are easily flammable so it spread quickly and the prayer room above the storeroom was also razed. “However the rest of the building remained largely unscathed with some smoke and heat damage,” he said. The fire brought the main hospital in the city to a brief standstill as an alarm rang throughout the facility shortly after midday.
A total of 39 firefighters, including eight officers from four fire stations were involved in the operation, along with four fire engines and a hazmat vehicle. A full investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.