SAN ANTONIO -

Nine patients who were evacuated from a Northwest Side building that houses a hospice care facility should be back in their regular beds by nightfall.

The building in the 8100 block of Fredericksburg Road houses the headquarters of Methodist Health Systems, as well as the hospice care facility, run by a company called Vitas.

Firefighters rushed to the scene shortly after 10:30 p.m. Thursday after getting reports of smoke on the second floor where Methodist's offices are located.

Keeping the offices safe, though, temporarily had to take a back seat to the safety of people on the third floor.

"There is a total of nine patients that were taken care of and evacuated, and a total of four employees that were also in the building at the time of the fire," said Assistant Chief Mike Welch, with the San Antonio Fire Department.

Welch said the patients are all bedridden and required special help in getting out of the building.

Once they were safely out, they were loaded into private ambulances and taken to a nursing home on Babcock Road, he said.

Firefighters then were able to concentrate on knocking down the fire, which produced more smoke than anything else.

"We determined that the fire was caused by an electrical short in an air handler unit in a mechanical room on the second floor," Welch said.

By Friday morning, all of the smoke had cleared and the building was back open for business, according to Palmira Arellano, a spokeswoman for Methodist Health Systems.

Patients were expected to return to the hospice care facility by afternoon.

In a brief statement emailed to KSAT 12 News Friday morning, Vitas, the company that runs the hospice care facility, said, "We are happy that all nine hospice patients were safely transferred to our other inpatient unit at Morningside."

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