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27 Evacuated During Fire at Nursing Home


Smoke from a malfunctioning air conditioner poured through the halls of a nursing home Monday, forcing the evacuation of 27 patients, fire officials said.

The incident occurred shortly before 10:30 a.m. at Acacias Care Center in the 600 block of Montgomery Avenue, said Capt. Tom Weir of the Ventura County Fire Department.

A nurse saw smoke coming from a basement vent and alerted others to begin evacuating patients.

"I heard this popping sound and saw smoke coming down from the ceiling," nurse Gloria Morales said.

Health-care workers began evacuating patients while leaving some behind a firewall in a wing of the building. It took workers three minutes to remove the patients from the building, said Charlene Hill, head charge nurse. No injuries were reported.

"Your adrenaline gets pumping so hard you don't get scared," Hill said.

When fire officials arrived, the blaze was out and patients were waiting outside.

"They were all very calm," Weir said. "I think they liked getting outside. They didn't want to go back in."

This was the second time the nursing home has used its emergency evacuation procedure. The first was in 1985, when a fire in the hills above Ojai threatened the area.

The smoke is believed to have come from a faulty blower motor that caused a flash fire, Weir said.

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