WEST CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) — Newly released surveillance video shows hero firefighters rushing into Barclay Friends senior living community last Thursday night as flames incinerated the buildings. Four people remain unaccounted following the blaze and are presumed dead, officials announced on Monday.
Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan says authorities are now sifting through the wreckage and rubble of Barclay Friends searching for their bodies. Authorities were able to get 133 residents to safety.
“This is a tragedy,” said Hogan. “We have four people unaccounted for and we’re not expecting good news.”
Hogan said the missing include a married couple — an 89-year-old wife and 92-year-old husband, an 85-year-old woman and a 93-year-old woman.
“Their families are waiting for our calls right now,” said Hogan.
Hogan said that if it wasn’t for the heroic actions of firefighters and police officers, dozens of others would’ve died in the fire.
“Now, based on the speed of this fire, and based on the condition of the residents, we would’ve expected to lose 40 to 50 people in a fire like this,” said Hogan.
Hogan added that firefighters’ helmets were melting while rescuing residents from the fire.
“Firefighters told me they kept going in there until their helmets were melting and cracked. Police officers were running in there without any breathing apparatus. They risked their lives to bring out everyone they could,” said Hogan.
Barclay Friends said in a statement, “Barclay Friends is devastated that four residents, one couple and two single residents remain missing and are presumed to have perished in the fire that ravaged Barclay Friends the evening of November 16. Members of the Barclay Friends team have met personally with the three families most affected by this horrific loss. We will provide as much support as possible for these families as they deal with this unimaginable tragedy.”
The fire also injured 27 people.
Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are leading the investigation and acknowledged last week that they were still trying to account for all of the residents.
An ATF spokeswoman says Sunday’s windy conditions scuttled plans to bring in a crane to begin going through the charred debris.
The ATF and other investigators were able to get full access to the site on Monday due to hot spots and structural issues.The atf and other investigators were were only able to get full access to this site, today…
Authorities want to find the exact origin of the fire today, but are focusing first on finding those four people unaccounted for.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people from around the region responded to a Facebook plea from the Trucks2 organization and arrived at the Goodwill Fire Company in West Chester on Sunday with canes, walkers, clothing, coats and cash for the displaced residents.
“Hopefully, through everybody’s effort here today, we can somehow translate that to the residents so that they know how much people care,” said Carol Hanson of Chester Springs, who retired from the Barclay facility six months ago.
By early afternoon, the fire company cut off the donations and was making arrangements to store the material and distribute some of what the Barclay residents won’t need to other organizations.