Jackson Memorial Hospital evacuated after fire sparks on rooftop; no injuries

MIAMI (WSVN) - Parts of Jackson Memorial Hospital were evacuated after, officials said, a fire broke out on the rooftop of the central building, making for some tense moments, Saturday afternoon.

Miami Fire Rescue responded to the scene of the blaze, just before 3 p.m. They said roofers were working on top of the building when construction material somehow caught fire.

7News viewers captured dark smoke billowing from the roof of the building on cellphone video. Witnesses also snapped pictures of the flames and posted videos of the smoke on social media.

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“They came in about two minutes, all of them, and they came to evacuate the building and stuff,” said Nissie Dunkley, the wife of a patient. “Fire department came through and got on the roof.”

“My husband is freaking me out because I’m not with him right now,” said Roberta Pattek, whose husband had undergone spinal fusion surgery.

Pattek tried run into the building after she saw smoke, but she was stopped in her tracks, as people were already evacuating. “He’s on the sixth floor … There’s a lot of them on that floor, and they wouldn’t let us back in,” she said.

“They’re like telling us to get out, and there is just a bunch of smoke, a ton, and it’s smoky on the sixth floor,” said Pattek’s daughter, Jamie Pattek.

Powerful alarms were activated as patients were moved to other floors. “Hospital staff quickly initiated their protocol, and they moved several of the patients that were ambulatory and some that were bed-ridden to a safer area in the hospital,” said Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll.

Meanwhile, firefighters worked quickly so there was no structural damage. “The fire was pretty intense,” said Carroll. “You had a lot of black smoke, but that’s also coming from the roofing materials.”

“The smoke was coming off the roof, and a man was coming down a ladder off the roof,” said Dunkley.

AC units pulled some of the smoke inside, but fire crews said at no time were patients in danger. “As a precaution, we moved several of the patients out of the way, because we don’t want them inhaling any of that,” said Carroll.

No one was injured.

Pattek said hospital staffers were initially not very forthcoming with information. “They said they’re evacuating, there is a fire, and to come out here, so we’re waiting,” she said, “but that’s all we know, No one’s come out to even tell us anything.”

“[I’m] just worried about my husband, because he has open heart surgery,” said Dunkley.

Crews were able to contain the fire to the rooftop and quickly extinguish the flames.

Saturday evening, Jackson Health System issued a statement that reads in part: “No one was hurt or in danger at the time of the fire. Fire crews have conducted air tests, confirming it’s 100 percent clean and safe.”

Pattek later sent 7News a picture after she was reunited with her husband. “We’ve been here for days already, and you’re a nervous wreck,” she said, “and then this happens, and now you’re more nervous.”

Roberta Pattek (left)
Roberta Pattek (left)

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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