Furnace short causes smoke in Swiss Villa

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County fire departments and EMS personnel were called to the Swiss Villa Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after workers reported smoke in the facility’s main hallway.

Jeff-Craig Fire and Rescue chief Tony Peelman said that his department was dispatched to Swiss Villa at approximately 8 p.m.

“We got called for smoke in the building,” Chief Peelman said at the scene. “We got here and we believe that it was a gas furnace that smoked through the vents. We ventilated the building out, and we have it narrowed down to the furnace.”

Chief Peelman said that there was some discussion about evacuating residents when the call first came in, but upon arrival and inspection by fire personnel, it was determined that the best course of action was to leave the residents in their rooms.

“Each of the doors to the residents’ rooms are fire doors, so we left everyone in their rooms once we determined that there was no major fire,” Tony Peelman said. “The staff at Swiss Villa was great and worked with us and with the residents to make sure they were safe.”

The gym at Switzerland County High School had been opened in the event that residents did have to be moved, and the chief praised the school’s willingness to offer their building.

“We really want to thank Switzerland County High School for getting that building opened up in case we needed it,” Tony Peelman said. “It was a big help knowing that if we had to move residents, we had a place close by.”

A large contingent of workers from Switzerland County EMS were at the scene, helping the Swiss Villa staff check on residents in their rooms, and prepare for a possible evacuation, if that became necessary.

Tony Peelman said that all of the emergency measures inside Swiss Villa were up to code, including resident doors that automatically close when the alarm sounds and a sprinkler system throughout the facility – all of which made the firefighters’ job much easier on Monday night.

With much of the smoke in the vents and the main hallway of the facility, firefighters opened doors and started some fans to help move the smoke out of the building; and they also continued to search for other possible “hot spots” with thermal equipment, but found nothing else.

Tony Peelman said that he also appreciated the response from other departments in the county, noting that if an evacuation had been necessary, all of the departments would have been needed.

Along with Jeff-Craig, responding to the situation were the Patriot, East Enterprise, and Moorefield departments; along with Switzerland County EMS and police officers from Vevay and the county.

While the matter was being attended to, State Road 56 was shut down so that fire hoses could be connected, and officers redirected traffic around the area by sending cars through the school parking lots and along the bus access road to the school administration building.

“We just want thank everyone for their response,” Tony Peelman said. “I think we’ve got it covered.”