UPMC Lock Haven remains closed after last week’s fire

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LOCK HAVEN, CLINTON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — UPMC Lock Haven remains closed indefinitely following last week’s fire that burned on Thursday and Friday in a tunnel connecting the hospital to the boiler room.

The fire has been out for three days but UPMC is still very much an active scene as workers continue the clean up. It is still closed as officials assess damage and determine a timeline after last week’s fire that forced a full evacuation of the building — including 12 inpatients and five more in the emergency department.

In a statement, the hospital said, “UPMC Lock Haven remains closed at this time as we work with local and state health officials to evaluate the extent of damage and discuss when services can safely open again for our community.”

But some in the community are concerned about potential repercussions.

“I hope that they can get everything rectified and get it back open because a lot of people around here depend on Lock Haven hospital because they live right here,” said Terrell Skinner, a Lock Haven resident.

“It’s a very serious thing. I live about two blocks away from the hospital. It’s wonderful to have a hospital that close,” said Thomas Reitz, also a Lock Haven resident.

Clinton County Emergency Services tells Eyewitness News those in the area in need of care could be sent to a number of hospitals based on proximity to the 911 call.

Terrell Skinner says any additional hurdle to health care is disconcerting.

“I’m on medication myself because I’m disabled — for my back. So if anything goes wrong, the distance is just too far to get to.”

The hospital, still yet to confirm a cause of the fire, says it is under investigation. But Eyewitness News spoke with Norm Wolfrom, chief of the Lock Haven Fire Department, who said a likely factor was a spray foam insulation put into the tunnel last Wednesday.

Wolfrom told us that spray foam insulation, known as Thermal Guard ISO, could have reacted with oxygen or something else inside the tunnel at a high temperature, causing it to ignite.

He added that as a stand alone, the material is not toxic but it does emit hazardous smoke when burning. Wolfrom said that was a factor in the decision made last Friday to issue that shelter in place.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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