Officials: Patient arrested after fire at Deaconess Midtown

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 10:19 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - One person was arrested after authorities responded to a small fire at Deaconess Midtown Monday morning.

Firefighters were called to the scene for a reported fire in a room at the emergency department.

Officials say an employee put out the fire before firefighters arrived using an extinguisher.

However, they say the nurse that put it out was admitted to the emergency department for smoke inhalation.

According to officials, this was an intentional fire. They say a patient set items in a linen basket on fire and walked out of the hospital.

Evansville police quickly apprehended the suspect, who has been identified as 50-year-old Sandra Lester.

Lester is currently in the Vanderburgh County Jail, where she faces arson and resisting charges.

Chief Mike Larson with Evansville Fire Department says the high levels of oxygen in hospitals can make fires extremely dangerous, which is why it’s so crucial for hospital staff to be ready.

Larson says if it weren’t for the preparedness of hospital staff, the outcome could have been a lot worse.

“Their actions definitely made a very happy outcome for this because they knew what to do, they knew where the fire extinguishers were, they knew how to operate the fire extinguishers, and the outcome was good,” Larson said.

The damage to the hospital room was minimal, according to Larson.

Sandra Lester.
Sandra Lester.(Vanderburgh Co. Jail)

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