Fire departments and agencies from around Washington responded to a fire at Montesano Health and Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 14.
The fire displaced 77 patients, and five patients were transported to local hospitals for further evaluation, according to Montesano Police Department Chief Brett Vance.
“We’re a pretty small community,” said Vance in a phone interview. “We had agencies from everywhere assisting us.”
The Grays Harbor emergency operations center was stood up to help handle the situation, Vance said, with the state formally mobilizing assistance at 8 p.m. to help transport patients and coordinate resources.
Personnel and assets from the surrounding towns and counties helped to transport patients and support operations, Vance said.
“We had 77 elderly people in a lot of different states of medical necessity,” Vance said.
All of the patients were rehoused in other facilities where they could continue to receive care, Vance said.
“They were able to find beds for 77 people in three-four hours,” Vance said. “It was an amazing thing to watch.”
Vance praised the assistance of the communities that came to Montesano’s aid from around the state.
The investigation into the origin of the fire is ongoing, Vance said, but is not considered suspicious. Investigators were still examining the source of the conflagration on Thursday morning, Sept. 15, Vance said.
“(The investigation is) still going,” Vance said. “We do know that they had some construction work on the building in the area where the fire started.”
Damage to the building was substantial, Vance said, but Vance said he wasn’t able to say if the building was salvageable.
“There’s a lot of water damage throughout the building because of the sprinkler system,” Vance said.
Damage also occurred from the fire itself and the work of firefighters to knock down the fire, Vance said.