“Early this morning the recovery efforts were successful and the body of a fallen firefighter, a hero for all, was recovered and removed with great solemnity by his fellow brothers and sisters in the fire and emergency services,” Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann wrote in a Facebook post.
The firefighter, who has yet to be formally identified, was first announced as missing by fire officials Tuesday morning after a massive fire destroyed a Spring Valley senior care facility and killed a resident there. It took more than six hours to get the fire under control, and even then, firefighters spent most of the day Tuesday battling hot spots as they searched for their missing colleague.
Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, a Rockland County official, tweeted video of an overnight procession reportedly showing the “somber moment” the missing firefighter’s body was escorted by fellow emergency responders to the medical examiner’s office.
An official briefing is expected later Wednesday during which the fallen hero, who “paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to others,” will be identified, said Hoehmann. Dozens of seniors remained homeless Wednesday morning after the fire ripped through the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in the early hours of Tuesday.
Over 100 firefighters across the tri-state area responded to help battle the blaze and rescue around 25 residents trapped inside the senior home. Heavy smoke and intense flames created blackout conditions, making emergency responders’ jobs even more challenging. The fallen firefighter had been trying to help residents escape when he disappeared.
Another 20 residents were hospitalized, some seriously injured, authorities said. All of the 120 or so residents of the senior home have since been accounted for and placed in neighboring facilities.
Local leaders have called on residents to donate clothing and toiletries to those affected by the fire.