One resident was killed and several others were seriously injured in a large fire that tore through an assisted living facility in Spring Valley, N.Y., early Tuesday morning, officials said.
One firefighter, a volunteer member of the Spring Valley Fire Department, remained unaccounted for after the blaze, said Chris Kear, the Rockland County fire coordinator.
The firefighter was rescuing a resident from the third floor of the facility and made an emergency “mayday” call, but other firefighters were unable to reach him before the section of the building that he was in collapsed.
“We believe at this time he got lost and just couldn’t find his way out,” Mr. Kear said.
Rescue teams were still searching for him as of 11:30 a.m., with a small excavator brought in to remove rubble from the collapse. Cadaver dogs had also been brought to the site to search for bodies.
“We’ve got to start pulling it back, and peeling it layer by layer,” Mr. Kear said. “And hopefully he’ll be recovered.”
A resident had also been reported missing, and the authorities believed that person may have been with the firefighter. But Rockland County officials said the resident was later found unharmed some distance away.
The authorities were called to the scene of the fire, the Evergreen Court Home for Adults, just before 1 a.m., officials said. Several residents were trapped in their rooms when the police and firefighters arrived. As the flames spread from the three-story building’s first floor up to its roof, firefighters from 23 departments rushed to the scene to control the blaze and carry residents to safety.
“It’s one of your worst nightmares,” Mr. Kear said of the fire. “It’s not your typical house fire where there’s five or six residents. You’re talking about an adult care facility where you have over 100 people.”
Hours after the fire first began, firefighters were still struggling to completely extinguish it. Flames were still jumping from the remnants of the building, and fire trucks and personnel continued to arrive in shifts all morning, spraying water on a pile of smoldering debris. Smoke and flecks of white ash floated toward a housing community near the site of the fire.
Edgar Cajas, 50, said that overnight, the wind had carried burning debris toward his home near the facility.
He climbed to his roof to spray water on the flames with a garden hose, while his family and neighbors gathered outside to watch the assisted living facility burn. It was a scene of “desperation,” he said.
Police, fire and emergency medical personnel were able to evacuate between 20 and 30 residents from the facility, officials said. At least 10 residents were taken to nearby hospitals with injuries related to the blaze.
Others were put on a school bus, and watched through the windows as their home burned. They were later taken to other adult-care facilities in the region. In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said that the state Health Department was working to ensure the residents were safely transferred to other facilities as needed.
Two firefighters were also injured and were expected to recover, Mr. Kear said.
The facility, located in Rockland County about 30 miles north and west of Manhattan, can accommodate up to 200 beds, according to the New York Department of Health. Attempts to reach the facility’s operator were not successful.
Officials estimated that there were between 100 and 130 residents living at the facility at the time of the fire, but it was not clear exactly how many of them were present when the fire broke out.
The police and fire agencies were conducting a head count to determine if every resident had been accounted for, Mr. Kear said. Officials have not yet publicly identified the resident who died or the two people who were missing.
“Many, many people were rescued from this fire,” said Ed Day, the Rockland County executive. “Much of the damage that could have happened even worse was stopped by those brave firefighters and all the support mechanisms around them.”
A cause of the fire, which primarily involved one half of the building, has not yet been determined, Mr. Kear said. But it was powerful enough that the second floor of the facility collapsed.
Officials would not speculate about the cause, but said they were investigating with the help of state authorities.
Mr. Kear said that the building’s age may have played a role in the speed at which the fire spread. He did not provide more details on the building’s construction but noted that the facility had a “partial sprinkler system.”
“This is a very old building,” Mr. Kear said. “It has been several types of buildings in the past.”
According to a state Health Department database, a 2019 inspection of the Evergreen Court Home found several violations related to the condition of the facility, including a violation of New York State’s regulations on smoke and fire protection in adult-care facilities.
No further details about the violations were immediately available, and a spokesman for the Health Department did not respond to a request for comment.
Derrick Bryson Taylor and Mihir Zaveri contributed reporting.