4 missing in senior home inferno, officials not hopeful

Anthony Izaguirre
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Four people are missing and presumed dead following last week’s fire at a Pennsylvania senior living community.

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community in West Chester, Pa., Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. Chester County emergency officials say at least 20 people have been taken to area hospitals for treatment. The extent of their injuries was not immediately known. (Pete Bannan/Daily Local News via AP)

The massive blaze tore through Barclay Friends Senior Living Community in West Chester late Thursday, injuring more than two-dozen people and displacing 133 residents. The cause is still unknown.

Officials previously had suggested that not all the residents had made it out alive, but they didn’t reveal the number of missing until Monday afternoon. A husband and wife as well as two other elderly women hadn’t been found “and we aren’t expecting good news,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said.

Investigators will start sorting through the remains of the burnt-out building with heavy machinery, officials said.

Eight people were still hospitalized Monday, authorities said, and scores of residents have been relocated to surrounding facilities.

Many residents were pushed from the complex in wheelchairs or rolled out on their beds into overnight temperatures that dipped into the low 40s as strong winds fanned flames that engulfed sections of the building within minutes.

More than 400 emergency personnel responded to the fire. The heat was so intense that one firefighter battling the blaze discovered his helmet was melting. Dozens of neighbors also helped during the rescue effort, wrapping residents in blankets and ferrying them to ambulances using makeshift gurneys.

Volunteers collected clothing and supplies for the residents over the weekend. Organizers said the support was so overwhelming they couldn’t accept any more items.