A small electrical panel exploded at a Mission Viejo outpatient medical center Wednesday afternoon, starting a fire and prompting the evacuation of 43 people, including eight patients, an Orange County Fire Department spokeswoman said.
Kathleen Cha said the explosion, in a first-floor office of the center, occurred at 4:20 p.m. In all, 35 firefighters were called to the scene of the blaze, which was extinguished within 40 minutes.
Cha said all four floors of the Mission Viejo Medical Center, in the 27800 block of Medical Center Drive, were evacuated. The small blaze was confined to the first floor but the evacuation was necessary because smoke filtered to the remaining three floors, she said.
The medical center provides kidney dialysis, cardiac and cancer outpatient care.
Cha said eight kidney dialysis patients were the only ones being treated on the fourth floor of the building at the time of the fire. Two of them were treated for minor smoke inhalation at Mission Community Hospital, across the street from the medical center.
Two other patients, she said, were taken home by ambulance, and the other four were allowed to go home on their own. Cha said medical services at the center were not curtailed.
Patti Range, a spokeswoman for the medical center, said the 35 other evacuees included doctors and staff personnel. She also said some staff members had smelled smoke for four hours before the explosion but had been unable to locate its source.
Cha said that there was no estimate on the amount of damages and that the cause of the explosion was still under investigation.