Photo: Policía Nacional.
Updated 16 August: The woman who confessed starting the fire in Candelaria Hospital has been remanded in prison custody while the investigation now proceeds. The remand was ordered by the Courts after the woman refused to cooperate with the Court or even enter a plea, with the judge acknowledging that apart from her verbal confession there is no firm evidence at present as to how the fire started. She has now been imputed (named as a formal suspect) for arson endangering life and physical safety: if charged following the investigation and subsequently found guilty, she will face a prison sentence of between ten and twenty years. Meanwhile, the Canarian Government has estimated repair works will cost its Health Department, Sanidad, some €2m, and take around a month before the hospital is back to 100% functionality.
Updated 1pm: Gran Canarian TV has aired the following video showing the fire damage inside Candelaria Hospital.
While posting the video, I think it’s worth commenting on the reports in some media that two people died during the fire the other night. The reports are being given in a way apparently intended to generate suspicion about the official stance that no-one died or was even injured in the fire, and so it seems rather important to clarify the circumstances surrounding their deaths. One was a woman from La Gomera who turned up at A&E feeling unwell: evidently patients don’t usually attend A&E unless they are already suffering from something; sadly, she died in the very doorway to the department and did not even enter it. Her death was completely unrelated to the fire.
The other death at the hospital the other night was a man who was undergoing standard resuscitation attempts at the time the fire started. He was in a separate part of the hospital unaffected by the fire, and sadly did not survive the attempts to bring him back to life. This is tragically routine matter in acute wards in any hospitals, and his death too was completely unrelated to the fire.
Updated 15 August: It doesn’t yet prove that the rumours were true, of course, but the Policía Nacional have confirmed this morning that the 51-year-old woman who claimed to have started the fire in frustration at her wait for her son to be seen has passed into the jurisdiction of the judicial authorities: she will be investigated by the Courts on clear suspicion of starting the fire. As confirmed by the Government last evening, the hospital A&E has now reopened in part, with work ongoing to restore normality in the shortest possible time. The Government has repeatedly thanked all rescue and first-response units, and the hospital’s own personnel, for their supreme efforts which were successful in ensuring no fatalities nor even injuries in what could have been a catastrophic tragedy.
Updated 8.30pm: The Canarian Government has said this evening that Candelaria Hospital’s A&E Department has partially reopened less than 24 hours after the fire which occurred last night, without any victims or anyone seriously injured. The Government’s health department Sanidad says that after inspection and evaluation by technical staff, the area of the A&E department not affected by the fire has been able to reopen to deal with urgent cases of adults and children. The Cruz Roja hospital camp tents will now start to be dismantled.
A&E will from 8.15pm this evening restart to triage patients and to distribute them according to severity and diagnosis. The Government confirms that the Hospital will continue to restore normality as soon as possible and return the services to 100% functionality: official sources also again thanked all professionals involved in the work since the alert was given around 24 hours ago, and to the public for their forbearance.
I have now been asked several times about fundraising, but please be aware that although the motives are understandable, laudable, and genuine, no monies are needed.
Updated 3pm: Emergency Services say that Candelaria Hospital is working to try to restore normality as soon as possible. For the immediate future, all adult A&E cases will be dealt with in the field hospital set up in the grounds by Cruz Roja, while child emergencies will be dealt with in Urgencias Pediátricas on the Paediatrics floor.
While updating, I’ve already been asked for information as to where monetary donations can be made. The official line at the moment is that none are actually needed because no-one has suffered personal loss and the material damage is officially funded and/or insured. One organization that always welcomes funds is the volunteer bomberos network, so that’s one possibility, and I’ll post any specific calls for assistance that I come across, of course.
Updated 14 August: Thankfully in the end no-one was injured but it was chaotic and frightening for many, and there is official confirmation this morning that a woman has been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire which saw around 160 patients including ten children evacuated from Candelaria Hospital last night. There are local reports that the woman was frustrated at the wait for her child to be seen but Canarian president Fernando Clavijo and Tenerife president Carlos Alonso have both stressed that at this point there is no evidence pointing to a specific motive.
Along with other officials and politicians the regional and insular Presidents have conveyed their gratitude to all emergency services and first responders that there were no fatalities, nor even serious injuries, in the incident: Guía de Isora mayor Pedro Martín has said that if the initial rumours turn out to be correct then an exemplary sentence will be called for. Meanwhile, there is much renovation work to be done and patients have been relocated as appropriate, some to other hospitals, some in makeshift hospital tents, others to local surgeries, and yet others to different parts of Candelaria hospital.
Original post 13 August: A fire that broke out in Candelaria Hospital around 8.30pm this evening saw patients wheeled out on stretchers into car parks and surrounding areas. Bomberos de Tenerife remain on site as of 10.15pm though the fire has just been confirmed to have been put out. Also dealing with the incident are the Santa Cruz Policía Local, and Protección Civil units and Policía Nacional officers. The fire broke out in the geriatric area, and required the A&E department also to be evacuated. The following video of some of the evacuation has been posted by Los Jardineros on social media: