WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — Many people at a West Chester senior living facility are now without a home following a massive fire that left 27 injured.
The residents of Barclay Friends are now relying on friends or loved ones to help them.
Peggy Conaway holds a smoky, brown blanket dear as a reminder of the unbelievable efforts people made to help her mother and other displaced residents of the Barclay Friends that caught fire.
“They had a whole bunch of blankets on them and then a neighbor came and put this comforter over her,” says Conaway.
She says for people with loved ones at Barclay Friends, news of the fire sent them scrambling Thursday night.
“It was chaos, literal chaos, huge flames, lots of smoke,” recalls Conaway who as of Friday afternoon still hadn’t slept.
Her mother Beatrice Stephenson is one week away from her 101st birthday and suffers from Alzheimer’s.
“It took a little while to find her so I was panicked, but she’s fine, scared,” said Conaway.
With so many elderly residents in wheelchairs or suffering from serious medical conditions, the Red Cross says getting evacuees to shelters took a lot of teamwork.
“I mean, we had hundreds of personnel on the scene between community partners, Red Cross and the folks from the university, so it really was a coordinated effort,” says Dave Skutnik, spokesman for the Red Cross of Eastern PA.
West Chester University provided shuttles and converted the gym into a shelter for more than 40 evacuees.
“The university is a resource for the community and what better place for people to be than in the gym when something like this happens,” says university spokeswoman Nancy Gainer.
By noon on Friday, all of the evacuees were placed in health care facilities or with family.
Conaway says from the Barclay staff to emergency responders, to neighbors that handed out blankets and helped push wheelchairs, it was a true community effort to help the elderly residents of Barclay Friends.