Fire damages hospital rehab clinic

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, August 29, 2013

A fire Thursday evening scorched the clinic in the front lawn of Borgess-Lee Memorial Hospital on West High Street.

Surveying the damage, Chief Operating Officer John Ryder said, “There’s been nobody injured. This is our rehab, with physical therapy and occupational therapy and some financial on this side.”

Once known as the Comstock building, it has been enlarged to two units through the years.

“The fire stayed separate from the hospital,” Ryder said, adding, “As a precautionary measure, we got people out of the older section of the hospital,” which faces High Street. “We didn’t have to move patients. This part of the building is pretty much offices, so we just went through and confirmed no one was in the old section.”

“The fire’s up high,” Capt. Mike Mattix said, intent on exposing any remaining hot spots from telltale smoke wisps.

Department of Public Safety Director Steve Grinnewald, who administers both Dowagiac Police Department and Dowagiac Fire Department, said, “At this point, we don’t know what caused it. It came on the radio as ‘the building next to the hospital was on fire,’ so I was thinking up there by where they parked the helicopter, then Jarrid (Bradford, deputy police chief) called and he thought it might be this house back here (across the street) that used to be a doctor’s office. This one didn’t cross my mind” until he arrived at the scene.

“They’ve got everything knocked down, just looking for hot spots,” Grinnewald said. “It appears to have started up in the ceiling, but what happened, we don’t know. There were flames showing when they got here. I got called about 6:40.”