Construction Incident at Emanuel Leads to Fire, Temporary Road Closure

David Fransen

A Thursday morning construction accident at Emanuel Medical Center led to an on-site fire and a temporary shutdown of two operating rooms, one of which was in the midst of a procedure.

No patients or construction workers were harmed, according to hospital spokesperson Pennie Rorex. Normal operations resumed within an hour.

According to the hospital, the incident occurred at 8:43 a.m. when construction crews breached an oxygen line while saw-cutting through a stucco wall. The oxygen then ignited, likely due to sparks from the saw cutting, causing a fire at the construction site.

Hospital and local emergency crews both responded to the incident. Construction workers extinguished the flames with on-site fire extinguishers before the Turlock Fire Department arrived, four minutes after the incident was phoned in.

“We are extremely proud of our joint efforts with Turlock's emergency responders,” Rorex said. “Together, we were able to minimize patient care disruption and restore almost all hospital services within an hour.”

Turlock Police arrived on scene and blocked off streets, in efforts to secure the area in case the fire spread or a gas leak occurred. The move was entirely precautionary, and the oxygen line breach presented no danger to nearby citizens.

“There was no public safety issue at any time,” said Turlock Police spokesperson Sgt. Stephen Webb.

Construction crews were building two new operating rooms near the corner of Delbon Avenue and North Olive Avenue at the time of the incident.

The fire did impact two operation rooms of Emanual Medical Center's six total, one of which was in the process of concluding a procedure. According to Rorex, doctors were able to complete the procedure with no negative impact to the patient's health

“There was nothing impacted in that patient care at all,” Rorex said.

Though the incident occurred near Emanuel Medical Center's birthing unit, the fire did not “compromise” the area. Four patients in labor and delivery were relocated to other rooms, while five babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were transferred to a Modesto hospital as a precautionary measure.

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