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Patient Burned in Hospital Fire

January 14, 1988

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) _ A man was in critical condition today with burns he suffered when fire broke out in his hospital room, authorities said.

William Jackson, 48, of Spartanburg was flown to Humana Hospital-Augusta in Georgia after the fire Wednesday at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center. Jackson had third-degree burns over 56 percent of his body, said Humana Hospital spokeswoman Cindy Edwards.

Firefighters said they found the mattress on fire in Jackson’s room in Spartanburg early Wednesday, and they discovered cigarette lighters and cigarettes around the bed.

A smoke detector outside Jackson’s room failed to go off because it was covered in plastic and duct tape, said City Assistant Fire Commander Don Grubbs.

Grubbs also said Jackson was in the room more than 20 minutes before firefighters found him because hospital personnel had said it was empty.

The director of public relations at the Spartanburg hospital, Carol Theiler, said today she could not comment further until an internal investigation is completed.

Grubbs said the hospital was renovating the wing and only six patients were there. The five others were evacuated and unharmed.

Grubbs said workmen covered the alarm several days earlier because they were soldering pipes and the alarm kept sounding during the work.

A second alarm down the hall was set off by the smoke, but Grubbs said he did not know how much time had elapsed.

He said hospital personnel had tried to put out the fire with a chemical extinguisher.

Ms. Theiler said confidentiality rules prevented her from disclosing the reason Jackson had been hospitalized.

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