Patients and staff evacuated from Keech Hospice Care in Luton after fire in nearby field

Fire crews tackled a field blaze last night and prevented it from spreading to Keech Hospice Care in

Fire crews tackled a field blaze last night and prevented it from spreading to Keech Hospice Care in Luton. - Credit: Archant

Staff and patients were evacuated from Keech Hospice Care last night after a 90-hectare fire in a nearby field.

Fire crews were called at about 5.20pm to tackle the blaze, which was in a stubble field in Underwood Close, Luton, that backed onto The Hospice site.

The fire, which was put out roughly two hours later, had spread to the boundary fence of the hospice, with patients and staff moved to the day centre at the front of the building as a safety precaution.

Hospice chief executive Liz Searle said: “I am extremely grateful for the quick response and excellent support of Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and my staff.

“We do have emergency plans in place in events of situations like this and we followed our procedure. The Hospice is back functioning as normal today and all patients and staff are safe.

“KeechFest – our 25th celebration garden festival which is taking place at the hospice this Sunday is very much full steam ahead and we look forward to welcoming more than 1,500 members of the public to the hospice.”

Six fire engines, two multi role vehicles, two rural water carriers and the incident command unit were all involved in fighting the fire and firefighters used breathing apparatus, fire hoses and beaters to battle the blaze.

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There were no casualties at the scene and it is believed that the fire was started accidentally.

Group commander Jason Tai said: “This was a large field fire that threatened the nearby houses and the Hospice.

“We split our resources into two sectors to prevent the fence fire becoming a danger to the Hospice while other firefighters tackled the stubble fire itself to get it under control so it did not threaten any other nearby properties.

“The incident was further complicated when The Hospice became compromised by smoke and the patients and staff had to be moved to the front of the hospice building.

“Our crews worked closely with our colleagues in the Ambulance Service and The Hospice staff to reassure the residents and their families and assisted in moving them back as soon as the area was deemed safe.

“Because the fire covered such a large area, at the height of the incident we were assisted by our police colleagues who used their helicopter to provide information to the crews about the movements of the fire, allowing us to relocate firefighters to meet the blaze head on and quickly bring it under control.

“Our firefighters worked hard and we called in our rural water carriers to keep them supplied with plenty of water during the incident.

“We got the fence fire under control quickly, protecting the Hospice from the fire, working to extinguish the field fire at the same time. I’d like to thank the crews for their hard work in dealing with this serious incident, they did an excellent job.”

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