UPDATE: Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point says they believe an overnight fire that forced patients out of their facility was caused by a lightning strike. The lightning caused a power outage and disabled the safe switch for their back up generator. The generator was destroyed but the fire was put out quickly.
The medical center says they safely evacuated their patients with the help of 70 ambulances, 10 engines, 3 buses, 2 task forces, 10 Sheriff's Office unites and Pasco Emergency Management. The medical center is not taking patients at this time and they have canceled all surgeries scheduled for Thursday.
PREVIOUS STORY: Every patient was evacuated from Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County after an electrical fire.
The fire started in the generator room, Wednesday evening. There were 209 patients moved to other hospitals in the Tampa Bay area; crews carried them from their rooms down the steps and into ambulances. Fire rescue and hospital officials decided to evacuate the hospital because their back-up power was not working.
"They have to have the ability to have backup power and it's really because … some of the patients are so critical they're on ventilators. They have special pumps going and when that power kicks out, the ventilators have battery backups but they may last an hour or two. And, once that power goes away there's no more ventilator working," Andrew Fossa, Personnel Chief and Public Information Officer for Pasco County Fire, said.
Crews from various counties helped transfer patients thanks to a statewide mutual aid request, which was granted. Fossa said their investigation is over and now state officials will continue to look into why this happened.
"(The) power went off. The generator automatically comes on and there is an electrical switch that realizes the regular utility power is not on and it's supposed to click over. Well, the generator kept trying to push it over and it didn't do it. I don't know if the switch was stuck or what happened, but it caused it to short out," Fossa said.
The CEO of the hospital, Shayne George, said they tested their generators and they system a week ago and everything worked fine.
"We have emergency generator capabilities. Those did kick on, but this was a transfer switch that did not activate in order to preserve life safety issues they had to shut down the generators 'cause they were sure if that was going to create any other problems," Shayne George said.
Shayne George said they will begin the process of transferring patients back to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point once everything has been restored.
If families need information, they can call 877-344-1313.