Firefighter trapped in assisted living home blaze found dead


Firefighters on the scene of a massive fire that tore through a senior living facility in Spring Valley, Rockland County, early Tuesday, March 23, 2021. (PIX11 News via Rockland Video Productions)

SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. (AP) — A firefighter who was trapped in a blaze that swept through a suburban New York assisted living home was found dead Wednesday, a day after the fire caused a partial collapse of the building and killed one resident, officials said.

“Early this morning the recovery efforts were successful and the body of a fallen firefighter, a hero for all was recovered and removed with great solemnity by his fellow brothers and sisters in the fire and emergency services,” Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann said in a Facebook post.

The recovery effort was hampered Tuesday by the intense heat of the smoldering wreckage. Officials searched into the night for the missing firefighter, who was last heard from when he issued a mayday call from the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in the Rockland County community of Spring Valley.

Officials did not immediately identify the firefighter or the resident who was killed in the blaze.

“This is an extraordinarily difficult time for the fire services within Rockland County,” Hoehmann said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the bravest and the fellow firefighters of Spring Valley who lost a brother.”

Officials planned a briefing for later Wednesday.

Two other firefighters and multiple other residents were sent to hospitals. A second resident thought for several hours to be missing was later found unharmed, officials said.

The home, which is located about 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of New York City, housed 112 residents, according to its operator.

The operators of the home said in a statement Tuesday that all the survivors had been accounted for and would be placed in a new home.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy at Evergreen Court Home and our hearts and prayers go out to all individuals and families who have been impacted,” the statement read.

The fallen firefighter was among more than 100 volunteer firefighters from departments around the region who responded to the scene and worked to shepherd the residents to safety, officials said.

“It’s a sad day on many fronts,” Rockland County Fire and Emergency Services Director Chris Kear said Tuesday. But he noted that first responders “saved numerous, numerous lives here” through their actions.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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