Inquiry into ‘deliberately lit’ fire ongoing

An investigation into a "deliberately lit" fire at Southland Hospital is ongoing after Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Fenz) were called out to the inpatient mental health unit yesterday afternoon.

The fire was extinguished about 3.20pm after three crews from Invercargill and Kingswell were called out at 2.56pm.

A Fenz spokeswoman said a fire investigator was at the scene yesterday afternoon and the building was being ventilated after a full evacuation of the fire cell.

Southern DHB director of nursing Southland Hospital Jo McLeod said that the cause of the fire was still being established.

There was minimal damage and patients and staff were evacuated from the fire cell in the building where the fire occurred, she said.

They were taken to another fire cell in the building where it was safe, but the building itself was not evacuated.

"It is always of concern when incidents like this occur. However, our fire response procedures ensure that patients and staff are kept safe," she said.

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

Specialist fire investigation officer Murray Milne-Maresca confirmed the fire was deliberately lit and the investigation would be ongoing. — Additional reporting Abbey Palmer

laura.smith@odt.co.nz

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