UPDATE: 11/18 5:00 P.M.
As of Saturday afternoon the fire was still burning. Crews had to wait until the membrane roof was finished burning in order to get the water where they needed it.
“Part of the problem was we had to focus on getting the place evacuated first,” Nick Christensen, Incident Commander for the Pocatello Fire Department, said. “And that took a fair amount of time so that have the fire time to grow. Some other difficulties we had, it was in the attic, just the access was a problem and still part of our problem as far as putting it out completely.”
Firefighters say all but a small portion of the inside was completely destroyed. They expect there to be smoke from the fire for the next several days. Crews won’t be able to start the investigation until the can get inside the building. They say it is a total loss.
The residents of the care center were taken to Portneuf Medical Center where, thankfully, none of them had to be admitted. The hospital says it was touching to see everyone coming together to help those in need.
“I mean, people were evacuated into the cold night air,” Todd Blackinton, public information officer for Portneuf Medical Center, said. “They mostly didn’t have jackets. Some didn’t have shoes or socks. So really, it was all about making people comfortable in kind of a chaotic situation. We got them drinks, we got them food. We got them socks if they needed it, blankets. And then just kept them comfortable until Safe Haven was able to get them some place else.”
In a statement, Safe Haven says staff is currently reaching out to resident’s families. It says some residents were moved overnight to other Safe Haven facilities in Wendell and Bellevue. It is working with other facilities in the region as well as the Department of Health and Welfare to provide ongoing care and placement for the rest of the residents.
A fire broke out around midnight Friday night at the Safe Haven care facility in Pocatello on Hospital Way.
Safe Haven is a facility that specializes in different types of care, including assisted living, nursing, and psychiatric care.
According to Pocatello fire chief David Gates, the fire is an all-call, meaning all available resources are on it. Chubbuck Fire Department is assisting as well. About 30 fire crew members were on scene in the early hours.
Gates said all residents and patients of the facility were safely evacuated. At least five were treated for smoke inhalation. Patients were transported to Portneuf Medical Center. According to PMC, as of 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the hospital was on code black. The preliminary count was 47 patients. PMC said they were mostly a holding place for patients at this point and were not treating any serious injuries. PMC is working with other agencies to place the patients as necessary.
Gates said firefighters are having a tough time getting to the fire. Gates said because of the health status and mobility issues with many of the patients, it took a long time to evacuate them. That gave the fire a jump start. Gates said they can’t get water to the seat of the fire, making it tough. Gates said it’s almost going to be necessary for the fire to almost burn itself out. The strong winds are blowing through the roof, making it unstable and hard for crews to get to as well.
Gates said at this time, he does not believe any other nearby homes or structures are in danger. He said the building is most likely a total loss. No cause of the fire has yet been determined.
with KIFI/KIDK for updates on this fire.