By: Joe Kuhn and Jennifer Korn
The Evergreen Court Adult Home in Spring Valley burst into flames last night at around 1 a.m. 23 of Rockland’s 26 Volunteer Fire Departments responded to the fire, which remains active but “under control” according to Chris Kear, Rockland County’s Fire coordinator. At least one resident died after being rushed to a local hospital. One Spring Valley firefighter and a resident were reported missing after the structure collapsed, however, the resident was later located.
Emergency services responded to the inferno within four minutes of receiving panicked calls from both the facility and neighbors who observed smoke pouring out of the first floor of the structure. Exact numbers remain unclear, but authorities currently estimate that the facility housed between 100 and 120 residents. “Between 20 and 30 residents were rescued from the building,” according to Kear, who added that “about 20” have been admitted to local area hospitals.
One Spring Valley firefighter went missing as he was rescuing residents from an interior stairwell on the third floor. He is now presumed dead. Kear reported that the firefighter called a mayday when attempting to rescue one of the residents, signaling his fellow responders to assist him: unfortunately, conditions inside the building made it impossible to locate the man, and responders were forced to call off the search due to the extreme danger of the situation.
Two firefighters were also hospitalized. One has been released in stable condition.
Spring Valley PD, New York State Police, the Rockland Sheriff’s Fire Investigation Unit, and State Fire Investigators have begun a joint investigation into the incident, but there has been no speculation as to what sparked the blaze. Kear reported that fire appears to have begun on the first floor of the structure before engulfing the rest of the building.
Witnesses at the scene stated that the fire department encountered some difficulty in preparing to combat the inferno.
“There was no water in the hydrants,” said Angela Sanchez, who lives just down the road from Evergreen. Sanchez stated the first responders also had difficulty accessing emergency entrances to the facility.
“They were going crazy, they were trying to get in and couldn’t get one open”
“I just hope that they got everyone out of there safely, because it seemed like the building had issues” stated Sanchez.
Kear confirmed that the department encountered difficulties with water pressure with several of the neighborhood fire hydrants.
This story is ongoing and will be updated as the situation develops.