Power restored to Burlingame care facility, patients return home

BURLINGAME, Calif. (KGO) -- Power has been restored to a long-term care facility in Burlingame that suffered an outage after a small fire Friday morning and patients are being moved back in, a San Mateo County Health System spokeswoman said.

A relatively small fire at a Burlingame Long Term Care Center caused a potentially big problem when the electricity went out. Dozens of patients, many of them in wheelchairs, had to be moved. The power was restored Friday night.

Most of the residents are back in their beds. There are still about 50 to 60 residents who are staying elsewhere who will need to be returned. The facility's CEO says they'll be reviewing their evacuation plan. The Burlingame Fire Chief also said the state and county will be reviewing whether a back-up generator on site was compliant

"I often wondered what would happen if there was an earthquake or a disaster and now I know," said Bob Edwards a Burlingame Long Term Care Center resident.

As roughly 70 Burlingame Long Term Care Center residents were loaded onto ambulances, Bob Edwards waited.

"I'm the last to go I guess," Edwards said.

The destination for many, San Mateo Medical Center and other skilled nursing facilities.

This after a morning fire no bigger than a shoebox, according to Fire Chief John Kammeyer. The preliminary cause of the fire was an overloaded circuit. The real issue for close to 300 elderly residents, a lack of electricity.

"We didn't know when the power would come back on or if it would at all," Kammeyer said.

A backup generator in place wasn't enough to keep the facility running. It was however just enough to keep first responders from having to carry residents down from the second floor.

"We had the elevator, so that really, really helped," Kammeyer said.

San Francisco Fire Department brought out its mass casualty buses. And just as four ambulance strike teams loaded up the last few critical residents to transport, the power came back on. With it, at least 15 residents who were still in transit elsewhere for the night.

"We feel they can be best cared for here," said Marcus Weenig, Burlingame Long Term Care Center CEO.

One man even came back by taxi.

Bob Edwards didn't end up having to go. "I'm not trying to avoid it it's just the way it happened," he said. Leaving him with a story to tell his wife, along with any future residents.

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