Power, A/C restored at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel

Aaron Mesmer reports

- An explosion at a Pasco County hospital Tuesday night had emergency crews preparing for the worst and relieved when the situation turned out to be minor.

Kevin Guthrie, the county's emergency services director, said at about 5:45 in the evening an explosion blew out the air conditioning at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel. It happened in an area that was under construction.

Reports from the county initially went out that the hospital had completely lost power, but once crews arrived they realized the only issue was the loss of air conditioning. The possibility of being without cool air for several hors was still enough of an issue, however, for the hospital to begin preparing for an evacuation, beginning with the critical care patients.

By a little after 8 p.m., crews at restored power to the A/C unit and it was determined that an evacuation was not necessary. One person still chose to be transported to another hospital.

"It got warm in there. A lot of people were walking around a little sweaty and stuff, but it seems to be up and running right now," Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Shawn Whited said shortly after the air conditioning began working. "Everything is cooling off in there. Everything seems to be back to normal. The hospital has told us all their systems are up and running and that they have no issues at this time."

This situation had crews fearing it would be similar to the one at Bayonet Point Hospital last month, when a lightning strike to the building caused a full power loss and the entire facility had to be evacuated.

Because power was not lost at Florida Hospital, this issue was not as urgent.

"We learned a lot of lessons at Bayonet Point Hospital that was an emergent issue," Whited said. "If we had to take patients out of here it probably wouldn't have been an emergent issue. Just not having air conditioning is not really a true emergency. It's going to make some patients uncomfortable."

No one was hurt during the explosion. The cause has not yet been determined.

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