The Spring Valley Fire Department responded to an odor of smoke call on Lafayette Street in Spring Valley. The address is home to the Evergreen Court Adult Care Facility, and consisted of one large wood frame building, built in the 1950s. Over the years, several other extensions were built onto the main building. At the time of the fire, there were just over 110 residents and staff inside.
Upon arrival of Spring Valley Chief Kenny Conjura, he transmitted a working fire with fire showing through the roof of the one-story kitchen area on the 1 side, and immediately requested manpower from several area departments, as he now faced a massive rescue effort. With staff and police already removing residents through the front door, numerous 911 calls were also starting to come in from several trapped residents on various floors. As the first Spring Valley firefighters began arriving, they immediately went into rescue mode, entering and removing several older residents, some ambulatory, some not. Many of the first-in firefighters made several trips in and out of the building, with rescued residents, while under heavy smoke conditions.
As the rescues were being made and arriving mutual aid companies joined the fight, attention now shifted to controlling the growing fire, as it spread vertically to the upper floors, with fire and heavy smoke on all three floors. Hampered by severe water pressure issues from village hydrants during most of the fire, crews struggled to contain the fire, while the separate rescue operation was still ongoing.
During this time, the fire dramatically worsened, and shortly after a Mayday was transmitted from a firefighter, Lieutenant Jared Lloyd, a member of the Columbian Engine Company, that he was trapped and running out of air. Valiant attempts to rescue him were made from several sides of the fire building but tragically, those efforts were ended by the fire that was now consuming the building, overwhelming the extinguishment efforts, and forcing all firefighters out. [See story on page 27. — Ed.]
As those final crews were clearing the building, they also removed what would turn out to be the final trapped resident, an older male who was pronounced dead at the hospital. Within about five minutes of the last firefighter clearing the structure, there was a catastrophic collapse of the building. In the hours that followed, the fire was extinguished and the search for Lt. Lloyd began.
Using dogs from the NYSOFPC, firefighters dug through the rubble of the collapsed building with excavators and hand tools, finally locating Lt. Lloyd’s body about 18 hours after the initial call.
The efforts made by the Spring Valley Fire Department, especially the initial crews that arrived on the scene — Lt. Lloyd among them — rescued an untold number of the residents. The fact that every resident there was removed from the fire building, the last one with just minutes to spare, is the most lasting legacy that will come from the Line of Duty Death of Lt. Lloyd.
Lt. Lloyd leaves two small boys, family and friends devastated by his loss, and brother firefighters who will mourn his death for years to come. The investigation into the cause of the fire and the sequence of events that lead to the deaths of Lt. Lloyd and the resident is ongoing, and being handled by several local and state agencies.
– Fire News photos by Kenny Flynn