No injuries or structural damage were reported as a result of a fire last night at Building 53 at the Norristown State Hospital and officials have determined the cause of the incident.
Originally speculated on by some residents at the scene and later confirmed by Norristown Fire Chief Thomas O'Donnell after an investigation by the Fire Marshal, the cause of last night's incident was a faulty heating device used to combat the bed bug infestation plaguing the facility. Earlier reports by BNN of a trash can catching fire were erroneous.
Referred to as a "bug oven," the device was described by one resident as a "large duffel bag-like thing with a heater." Upon entering the facility, residents are asked to place clothing and other belongings in the device to kill any bed bugs they may be carrying.
Residents and staff populating the community room at Building 53 last night heard the smoke detectors and saw the smoke coming from the corner office. The building was quickly evacuated as the sprinkler system engaged to fight the flames.
Once firefighters arrived and had the fire under control, they checked the rest of the building for any damage and allowed residents to be relocated to the living quarters in another section of the building. Staff were then given access to the office to retrieve needed items and medication for some residents.
Read more details from the scene in last night's report.