Babies, sick kids moved as fire hits Winnipeg hospital

Hospital patients and their parents had a restless night after a fire at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre caused $1 million damage and sent smoke into the Children's Hospital.

Hospital official describes situation as 'harrowing at times'

HSC fire prompts evacuation of Children's Hospital

9 years ago
Winnipeg's Children's Hospital was evacuated due to a fire that caused $1 million in damage at the nearby Health Sciences Centre. 1:45

Hospital patients and their parents had a restless night after a fire at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre caused $1 million damage and sent smoke into the Children's Hospital.

"I could see the flames above the building and the smoke … it was just like black smoke all above us around here," said Chris Bakosti, whose eight-month-old son was one of 92 patients in the Children's Hospital that had to be relocated to another area of HSC.

He said he panicked at the start because he didn't know where his son had been taken. Bakosti had stepped away from the boy's room to get a drink when the fire broke out.

Children's cribs sit in the hallway of the Health Sciences Centre after a fire forced 92 patients from the Children's Hospital to be temporarily relocated. (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority)

"The fact of being on a gurney with a bunch of other guys pushing him around, I panicked a bit," Bakosti said.

"But once I found my wife and the nurse told me he was OK, when I got to him all the panic was gone."

'Hauling babies'

The fire started around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in an area of the under-construction diagnostic building, next to the Children's Hospital. It also impacted portions of the Health Sciences Centre's Ann Thomas Building.

"We were hauling babies," said HSC chief operating officer Dana Erickson, describing how staff and families of sick children had to move the patients out in the middle of the night.

"You're moving babies and other children down stairwells and of course, you have to move cribs and beds and supplies. And the staff, the care staff, the nurses and so on, have to come with the patients in order to continue to provide the care."

Erickson said the hospital has never had to deal with anything of that magnitude before and called it "harrowing at times."

He said it was fortunate many patients had family members on hand who could help with the evacuation.

"We had in many instances, there were parents that were available or that were with their child. So that was actually good in many ways," he said.

Hospital staff praised

CBC News reporter Meaghan Ketcheson spoke to parents who were in the hospital with their two-year-old son when the alarm went off and the fire doors slammed shut.

They had to carry him to another part of the hospital, following the direction of staff for whom they had high praise about their professionalism during the tense time.

Bakosti also lauded the staff.

"They fed us, they brought us juice, everything, Whatever we needed, they took care of us," he said.

In all, it took 90 minutes to move out the 92 patients.

None of the patients were hurt but a firefighter had to be treated for a minor injury.

Patients back in Children's Hospital

The Children's Hospital emergency department was temporarily relocated but was back in its regular space a few hours later.

By noon on Wednesday all of the patients who were displaced by the fire were back in the Children's Hospital, after the air quality had been reviewed by Winnipeg's fire-paramedic service.

As far as operations at Children's Hospital today, some pediatric elective surgeries were postponed and rescheduled, said Heidi Graham, spokeswoman for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.

It still isn't known what caused the fire but damage is said to be extensive, primarily from smoke and water.

Winnipeg police said the fire caused an estimated $1 million damage to the hospital.

Some outpatient clinic appointments may also be cancelled.