The remains of the final two victims have been recovered from inside the burned out Barclay Friends Senior Living Community, officials said Wednesday.
The remains were found six days after an inferno broke out at the Chester County, Pennsylvania, facility. Remains of two other victims were recovered from the West Chester fire scene Tuesday, officials said.
Special agents with the the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team, Pennsylvania State Police, and Chester County Fire Marshal’s office announced they had recovered remains of all those believed to have perished in the fire, all in the south wing where the fire is believed to have originated.
Family members of the four victims had been notified, officials said, but the identities of those who were found were not released.
“The thoughts and prayers of the men and women of ATF are with the families of the victims during this difficult time. Their losses only strengthen our resolve to provide answers to them as a result of our investigation of this tragedy,” said Special Agent in Charge Donald Robinson.
Robinson is spearheading a team of more than 60 investigators.
Investigator would continue to sift through the rubble of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community through the Thanksgiving holiday, officials said. A large crane and other excavating equipment was brought to the fire scene as investigators search for a cause of the fire.
Loki, an ATF-trained accelerant detection K-9 was brought in to assist with the investigation into the cause, the ATF official twitter account posted Wednesday.
The fire erupted shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday while most of the 137 residents were sleeping. The blaze started in the back of one of the buildings, ripped through the center and all the way to the ceiling, creating a "raging inferno," Hogan said.
Flames tore through the senior living community's personal care wing with such speed that hundreds of first responders rushed into the building without securing their breathing equipment.
Several firefighters described their helmets melting and cracking from the intense heat.
Most of the residents were bedridden or in wheelchairs. Senior home staff and outside neighbors rushed from room to room in the facility, wrapping residents in blankets and sweeping them out in to the frigid night in wheelchairs and even in beds.
One of the elderly women rescued is Robinson's aunt. She is safe with relatives, but Robinson said it's a reminder of how many community members were touched by the fire.
“We’ve all got a piece of this,” he said. “We’re depending on each other and we will be here as long it takes to get some answers for the families."
Paramedics took 27 residents to hospitals for treatment. Some of the injuries were described by authorities as "serious."
Of those that were rescued without injury, 102 have been placed in other facilities and 31 have been taken in by family members.
Parts of the complex burned for more than 24 hours and unstable walls teetered over the scene.
Last year, state health officials cited Barclay Friends and its owner Kendal with fire safety violations, including a failure to maintain corridor smoke doors. The violations were recorded in the facility's nursing home section, which was not touched by fire.
A provisional license status for the nursing home was lifted in February following a new inspection, but at least one fire safety violation remained, state records showed.