Police have opened an investigation into the deaths of six people at a Florida nursing home left powerless after Hurricane Irma.
Three died at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and three others were pronounced dead at the hospital, Hollywood city officials said in a statement. The victims’ identities were not immediately made public.
Watch Health Aids Evacuate 115 patients From Powerless Rehab Center
Police responded to a call from the facility shortly after 4 a.m. Wednesday and found “several patients in varying degrees of medical distress and immediately began treatment,” city officials said. All 115 residents were evacuated.
Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the deaths were heat-related. “The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
A nursing home employee told NBC Miami that the building was cool as of Tuesday, but that he returned Wednesday morning to a chaotic, overheated facility.
It was not clear whether the building had a back-up generator or what measures were taken to care for residents after the storm. Phone calls to the nursing home went unanswered Wednesday morning.
Temperatures in South Florida this week have been in the 80s, and the low in Hollywood on Tuesday was 79 degrees.
Irma cut power to millions of Floridians and killed more than 54 people across the Caribbean and southeastern United States as it rampaged across the Atlantic. As of Wednesday, nearly 60 percent of customers had electricity restored, according to Florida Power & Light.
Sharief said she had asked the utility company to prioritize getting power back for assisted living, nursing home and senior care centers.
As a precaution, officials were checking on all of the other 42 assisted living facilities in Hollywood on Wednesday, NBC Miami reported.