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Residents lacking in West Chester nursing residence blaze

The blaze burned uncontrolled for two ½ hours, gutting an enormous swath of a nursing residence in West Chester. It despatched 27 individuals to the hospital. It drove scores of aged and frail residents into the chilly and darkish, lots of whom have been rolled to security in wheelchairs and hospital beds, swathed in blankets.

And hours after the fireplace was extinguished on the Barclay Friends facility Friday, investigative officers stated they nonetheless couldn’t account for the entire residents there.

One West Chester man,  Kenneth McGill, 62, stated his aged in-laws have been lacking and that facility directors haven’t but been capable of find them at any hospital or different facility taking in displaced Barclay Friends residents. He declined to determine his spouse’s dad and mom, saying solely that that they had moved a couple of 12 months in the past right into a small Barclay condominium in an space for residents with reminiscence impairment..

McGill held out hope that his cellphone would ring with phrase they have been nonetheless alive.


“We’re just waiting for a call,” McGill stated.

Officials wouldn’t elaborate on the lacking and even specify how many individuals have been but to be situated. Nor may they instantly say how the fireplace started in what seems to have been a well-managed facility.

What is thought is that the blaze began within the residence’s part for residents who want help with each day residing, not within the extra closely populated space for these receiving expert nursing care, a extra challenged inhabitants. Police stated it broke out in a bit for tenants with reminiscence issues.

The hearth broke out round 10:46 p.m. Thursday.

The blaze climbed swiftly to 5 alarms, reaching that peak in a couple of half hour.  At one factors flames rose excessive of a few of the buildings within the facility

As many as 200 firefighters fought to deliver the blaze beneath management till nicely after 1 a.m. Friday. Hours later, they have been nonetheless dousing the smoldering ruins.

Neighborhood residents rushed to help facility employees members, firefighters and police with the evacuation, working rapidly to get the 160 residents and employees out from the blaze.

Authorities stated 27 residents have been taken primarily to 2 hospitals, Chester County and Paoli. By Friday afternoon,17 have been nonetheless hospitalized, all in truthful or higher situation.

A particular crew from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is to hitch native officers, together with the Chester  County hearth marshal’s workplace and county prosecutors, to analyze the fireplace’s trigger.

Barclay Friends is “fully sprinklered,” in accordance with Pennsylvania Department of Health constructing inspection experiences. It has been cited for minor fire-safety violations up to now, however they have been rapidly resolved.

Barclay Friends, a non-profit with revenues of $14 million, has approval to supply private care to 49 residents and expert nursing facility to a different 98. It additionally provides impartial residing amenities for some residents.

Paul Swanson, who lives behind the ability, was asleep when he heard the fireplace vans and his spouse “scream something about a fire.”

He seemed out his again window noticed flames.

“They could hardly do anything to prevent it from spreading,” he stated as he watched crews proceed to pour water into the badly broken constructing about 9 hours after it was first reported. “It just burned a long time.”

Peggy Conaway’s mom has been in hospice care at Barclay.

After listening to concerning the hearth on the 11 p.m. information, Conway rushed to the ability. Outside of it, she discovered her mom, Beatrice “Bee” Stephenson,  wrapped in blankets like a cocoon, solely her eyes seen.  Conaway held her mom’s hand and rubbed her shoulders.

“It was cold. It was windy. It was smoky. It was nasty,” Conaway stated.

Initially, residents have been taken to a number of places, together with the Good Fellowship Ambulance Company and a fitness center at West Chester University, the place they waited till they might be positioned in one other facility or reunited with household.

Jim McGrady, 75, had simply turned off the Pittsburgh Steelers soccer recreation when he seemed out the window of his room within the Goshen Building at Barclay and noticed individuals pushing sufferers.

“Little did I know, the place was on fire,” stated McGrady, a former volunteer with the Berwyn Fire Company.

McGrady, wrapped in blankets and sheets, stated there was no smoke in his unit and that the evacuation was calm.

Bob Reuther, an Owen Street neighbor of Barclay Friends, was at residence late Thursday when his daughter got here in to say that the ability was on hearth.

Reuther stated he noticed about 30 different neighbors and employees going out and in of the buildings, pushing sufferers in chairs and beds up a hill.

“The staff was incredible,” he stated.

Reuther stated he and different neighbors stayed with the evacuated residents for about three hours, speaking to them, giving them water and attempting to maintain them heat. He stated neighbors have been bringing blankets from their properties.

“They were lined up for a block,” he stated.

Barclay, based by Quakers in 1893, is a part of Kendal Corp., one other Quaker nonprofit that in 2016 was the nation’s 11th-largest non-profit senior residing firm, in accordance with the most recent LeadingAge Ziegler report. Kendal relies close to Kennett Square.

According to state information, probably the most severe incident at Barclay in recent times was the choking demise of a resident in September 2016. The resident, with a identified choking danger, was given the one other individual’s meal. Regulators fined the house $9,750 in April for that.

On Wednesday, the state renewed the house’s personal-care license. For that stage of care, the latest violation date again to 2015 and a failure to correctly report the demise of a resident in July 2015. The inspection report present no particulars on the demise.

As for fire-protection, the ability’s regulatory file seems comparatively unblemished and all issues have been rapidly corrected.

Many households praised the place in interviews. Linda Barnes known as it “beautiful” and “immaculate.”

After the house alerted her to the fireplace,  Barnes raced to seek out her mom. Beatrice Founds Conner, 90, at  the Goodwill Fire Company on Union Street in West Chester. It took a worrisome very long time to seek out her within the chaos.

“When I finally found my mother she was in her pajamas and slippers, sitting with a nurse who just loves her,” stated Barnes.

“They got everyone out safely, it took a long time to find my mother – things were a little fractured.” Barnes stated.

Conner, a retired faculty trainer who suffers from dementia, had a query for her daughter: When would the house’s cafeteria open up so she may get breakfast?

Staff writers William Bender, Howard Brubaker, Stacey Burling, Mark Fazlollah, Joseph Gambardello, Emerson Max, Craig R. McCoy, Tricia L. Nadolny, Aubrey Whelan, and employees photographer Steven M. Falk contributed reporting to this story.




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