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Nursing Home Fire Kills 1, Hurts 6

November 12, 1997

SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) _ Trapped elderly residents screamed for help as firefighters arrived Tuesday to put out a nursing home blaze that killed one person and injured six others.

``There were people beating on the windows,″ said Bill Guy, Reno County emergency management director. ``It was so smoke-filled. The whole hallway was full of smoke.″

The early morning fire Pheasant Acres Retirement Center was caused by a male resident, who had been flicking ashes into a trash can, said county fire Capt. Doug Tallant. The man escaped unharmed after warning other residents.

Bernice Stout, 83, was killed in the fire. She was found sitting in a chair in her room and is believed to have suffered smoke inhalation.

The home did not have a sprinkler system. It was built before a law requiring such systems.

Rescuers got everyone out of the building, carrying some through windows to avoid thick smoke. Tallant said 33 residents and two employees were evacuated.

Among the injured were two residents in their early 70s who were hospitalized in critical condition with burns and smoke inhalation. Four other residents, ranging in age from 45 to 82, suffered smoke inhalation and were hospitalized. Many others were treated at the scene.

One wing of the home was badly damaged and the rest sustained smoke damage. The home was shut down after the fire and residents were temporarily housed at another nursing home next door.

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