Fire causes brief evacuation at Western State Hospital

A fire at Western State Hospital caused a brief evacuation of several wards this week, the state Department of Social and Health Services said Friday.

The blaze was started by a patient about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, and crews evacuated three civil wards for several hours, according to the agency.

Western State is an inpatient psychiatric facility that houses individuals who have been civilly committed, as well as people found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity and defendants in criminal cases whose competency to stand trial is being evaluated.

Staff and firefighters kept the blaze from spreading beyond the patient’s room, and police arrested the patient on suspicion of second-degree arson.

Patients who evacuated went to other wards and started returning to their living quarters about 11 p.m., DSHS said.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell