Suspected arson at major hospital prompts investigation

A small fire on the third floor of Hospital San Juan de Dios appears to have been set, and the Ministerio Público confirmed Tuesday that the blaze was under investigation.

The fire was a reminder of the July 12, 2005, tragedy at Hospital Calderón Guardia, also in San José, where 19 persons died. That fire started in a small storage room.

Firemen moved aggressively and damage was confined to some papers in the office of the chief of surgery at the hospital. Firemen quickly had 11 trucks and 32 persons at the scene. The call came in about 7:12 p.m. Someone saw smoke coming from the office window, which is why firemen were able to arrive so quickly.

The first crew arrived in just three minutes.

A report from the Cuerpo de Bomberos said there was no way the blaze could have started accidentally. So the case was turned over to the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Agents later said that about 20 hospital employees had easy access to the site of the blaze, and these individuals would be questioned. The hospital’s surgery wing has been in the news. Last week the Ministerio de Salud closed 15 operating rooms because of dilapidated conditions.

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