A small fire forced the evacuation of a number of patients from the emergency department of Cork University Hospital this afternoon.

Two units of Cork City Fire Brigade responded to an emergency call at around 1.30pm, but the fire had already been extinguished by staff in the ED using a portable extinguisher when they arrived.

Patients were evacuated from the part of the ED that was affected for around an hour, and a number of ambulances were diverted to the nearby Mercy University Hospital in the city.

Cork City Fire Brigade personnel ventilated the area and tested for gas, before declaring it safe for patients and staff to return at around 2.30pm.

A spokesman for Cork City Fire Brigade praised the prompt action of staff at the ED for extinguishing the fire quickly. The spokesman said damage caused was minor.