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Spring Valley Emergency Management responds to fire

Tue, Mar 16th, 2010
Posted in Police Reports

Hillside Homes in Spring Valley, Minn., tested Fillmore County’s Emergency Management response with fire in the elevator. All residents were evacuated without injury. Photo by Gary Peterson

The calm of a warm Spring Valley morning was broken by the sounds of smoke alarms going off in Hillside Homes, an independent living facility. At first residents didn't know what was happening but then it became apparent that there was smoke in the building and the fumes were spreading throughout the facility.

The Spring Valley Fire Department was called and it was quickly determined that there was a fire in the elevator shaft of the facility. The entire commons area was filled with smoke and firemen rushed to evacuate the residents to safety. The Spring Valley Ambulance responded along with Deputies from the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office. It was 8:00 a.m.

Within minutes the Emergency Action Plan was put into play, each Department knowing exactly their duties and how they were going to care for the evacuated residents. It was decided to move all 40 residents to the Spring Valley Community Center by school bus. This was accomplished within a matter of minutes and no one suffered any injuries in the move.

The Red Cross in Rochester was notified and Emergency Response Teams arrived at the Center joining Red Cross volunteers from the Spring Valley Area. Salvation Army was on the scene and joined with the Red Cross in making the care of the evacuated residents top priority.

The Community Center accommodated over 40 people for several hours and nurses checked on the residents and assisted with their medications that had been rescued from their rooms at Hillside Apartments.

Meals were served to the residents by Elaine's Café and the Red Cross. Qwik Trip stepped forward and donated bottled water, Orange Juice and snacks to everyone. Residents busied themselves in the community center playing cards and talking, waiting for the inspection by the State Fire Marshall and the local building Inspector. By 4:30 the final approval was given to Spring Valley Emergency Management to move the residents back into their apartments at Hillside Homes. The elevator will be out of commission for 4-6 weeks and residents will be needing assistance on the 2nd and 3rd floors if they need to use the steps. Their mail and meals on wheels will be delivered to them.

Spring Valley Emergency Management Director Jeff Kappers said that the evacuation went very smoothly and he was grateful to all the agencies that acted so swiftly and prevented any injuries to any of the residents.

Hillside Homes had been evacuated once before, the flood of 2002 so Emergency Management Officials knew what had to be done and how it was going to be done.

Past experience paid off.

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