Investigator: St. Mary’s fire started intentionally

A fire Monday night at St. Mary’s Hospital that injured a patient and hospital employee was started intentionally, a Grand Junction Fire Department investigator said this afternoon.

Investigator Joe Cordova told The Daily Sentinel that the fire was started with a cigarette lighter. He declined to identify the person who ignited the blaze but said criminal charges are pending against that individual.

The fire broke out around 10:45 p.m. Monday in a patient’s room on the fourth floor of the hospital’s Valley Zone. There was a patient inside the room and a total of 20 patients in that section of the hospital at the time of the blaze, said Dan Prinster, St. Mary’s vice president of planning and business development.

The patient was flown by the hospital’s CareFlight fixed-wing plane to the University of Colorado Hospital in Denver. Prinster said the hospital’s policy calls for patients burned over a certain percentage of their body to be flown to a burn unit in Denver. He declined to identify that percentage or release any other information about the patient, including his or her gender or condition.

The employee also was burned but was less severely injured than the patient. She was treated in the emergency room and returned to work to finish her shift. St. Mary’s spokeswoman Samantha Moe said the employee asked that no information be released about her.

The fire was put out by the hospital’s sprinkler system and employees.

Read the full story in Wednesday’s Daily Sentinel.



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