A five-alarm fire broke out at West Chester senior living facility Barclay Friends on Nov. 16. Flames reportedly reached up to over 50 feet. The Philly Inquirer reports that over 400 responders arrived at the scene to help with the rescue efforts.
The Philly Inquirer further says that West Chester University student and member of Friar’s Society Joshua Dandridge was contacted by his organization asking all members for immediate assistance. He, along with dozens of other West Chester University students, helped set up the temporary Red Cross shelter at Ehringer Gym.
133 residents and 15 staff members evacuated the premises. However, the County Coroner’s Office revealed that four residents had died due to the fire.
Two of the victims were married couple Delores G. Parker, 89, and Thomas F. Parker, 92. The other victims were 93-year-old Mildred E. Gadde and 85-year-old Theresa J. Mallory. Their cause of death has been identified as smoke inhalation.
Special agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that no foul play is suspected to have caused the fire.
The Barclay Friends’ sprinkler company is owned by Johnson Control Inc. Spokesmen of the corporation Fraser Engerman said they are “assisting authorities and currently gathering information to find out more details about the fire.”
The 133 residents that were rescued without sustaining injuries were relocated. 102 of them went to other facilities while the remaining 31 went to live with their families.
Before the residents were found dead, Barclay Friends released a statement saying, “As the day and weekend goes on, residents from Barclay Friends now dispersed over many different communities in and around Chester County will rest, begin to heal, and commence with the longer range planning to support more permanent transitions as they may be needed.”
The statement further read, “As we know more we will be sure to deliver updates. In the meantime, we are heartbroken by what’s befallen Barclay Friends and uplifted by the caring and generosity that surrounds them and us.”
Halle Nelson is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in deaf studies and English literature. She can be reached at HN824858@wcupa.edu and on Twitter @Halle_N_Nelson.