Deaconess Patient Charged With Arson After Fire Set Inside Hospital

A patient at Deaconess Midtown was arrested and charged with Arson on Monday after the Evansville Fire Department says the patient set a fire in the emergency room and tried to leave.

Posted: May 24, 2021 10:16 AM
Updated: May 25, 2021 7:36 AM

The Evansville Fire Department says a Deaconess Midtown patient was arrested and charged with Arson on Monday morning after setting a fire inside the hospital and attempting to leave.

Sandra Lester, age 50, was arrested and taken to the Vanderburgh County Jail.

According to EFD, crews responded to Deaconess Midtown at 600 Mary St. around 6:00 a.m. on Monday for a commercial structure fire alarm. EFD says there was also a 911 call reporting a fire in a room at Deaconess Midtown Emergency Department.

A nurse at Deaconess Midtown used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire prior to EFD's arrival. Once crews arrived, they used fans to remove smoke from the area.

EFD says the fire was intentionally set by a patient who set items in a linen basket on fire and walked out of the hospital.

As a result, the Evansville Police Department quickly apprehended the suspect and Arson charges have been filed.

EFD says the nurse that discovered the fire and extinguished it was treated for smoke inhalation.

Division Chief Mike Larson with the Evansville Fire Department says because oxygen circulates through the hospital -- there is a greater risk for a fire.

"That increases the fire's ability to spread and build that much more quickly so 100 percent oxygen is almost like pouring gasoline on the fire itself," he said. 'It really helps the fire to grow that much faster. We take our hats off to the staff there at Deaconess hospital for being trained and keeping their head and doing what they needed to do to get that fire out."

The condition of the nurse admitted for smoke inhilation is still unknown.

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After a damp start to our Monday, the rain and skies gradually cleared for many of us and we were left with a pleasant and breezy, albeit humid afternoon throughout the Tri-State. The southerly winds paired with the clearer skies later in the day helped drive temperatures back into mid to low 80s for many of us. The evening ahead should remain dry and mild; after seeing temperatures around 80° dinnertime and 75° by 10PM, we'll fall off to a morning low near 69° in Evansville early Tuesday morning.
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