Fire at Southland Hospital 'lit deliberately'

A fire that prompted patients to be moved at Southland Hospital this afternoon was deliberately lit, an investigator says.

Three crews from Invercargill and Kingswell were called to the hospital's Inpatient Mental Health Unit at 2.56pm, a Fire and Emergency New Zealand spokeswoman said.

Southern DHB Director of Nursing Southland Hospital Jo McLeod said patients and staff were evacuated from the "fire cell" in the building where the blaze occurred and taken to a safe area in the building.

She said there was minimal damage, and the cause of the fire was still being established.

The Fenz spokeswoman said a fire investigator was at the scene this afternoon and the building was being ventilated.

Specialist fire investigation officer Murray Milne-Maresca confirmed the fire was deliberately lit and the investigation would be ongoing.

Ms McLeod said it was "always of concern when incidents like this occur, however, our fire response procedures ensure that patients and staff are kept safe".

"We thank our colleagues from the Fire and Emergency New Zealand in Invercargill for their response to this incident.” 

The fire was extinguished by about 3.20pm. 

 - additional reporting Abbey Palmer 

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