SPRING VALLEY, N.Y. — The search for a missing firefighter in Rockland County ended early Wednesday after a body was discovered at the scene of a deadly blaze that broke out at a local senior home nearly 24 hours prior.
At a press briefing Wednesday morning, Rockland County Fire Coordinator Chris Kear confirmed crews discovered the body in the rubble of the fire just before midnight Tuesday.
“At this current time, there is no positive confirmation that this is the missing firefighter from the Spring Valley fire company,” Kear said. “This determination will be made once the medical examiner’s office conducts their investigation, which will include DNA testing,” he continued.
Moments later, however, Rockland County Executive Ed Day appeared to confirm the identity of the missing firefighter and that had indeed been killed while responding to the inferno.
“Yesterday, Jared Lloyd gave his life in service to others,” Day began. “He searched as the building burned, determined to rescue anyone who may have been trapped. His loss is devastating. There’s no other way to put it. But I will tell you this: His loss and his heroism will never be forgotten,” he said.
Watch the Rockland County officials’ full Wednesday morning briefing:
The updates came several hours after Clarkstown Supervisor George Hoehmann preemptively announced on Facebook early Wednesday that the firefighter’s body had been recovered.
“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,” Hoehmann wrote in the post.
Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, a Rockland County official, tweeted video of an overnight procession reportedly showing the “somber moment” the missing firefighter’s remains were escorted by fellow emergency responders to the medical examiner’s office.
The firefighter was first announced as missing by Kear on Tuesday morning after the massive fire destroyed a Spring Valley senior care facility and also took the life of a male resident there.
It took more than six hours to get that blaze under control, and even then, firefighters spent most of the day Tuesday battling hot spots among the search for one of their own.
Dozens of Spring Valley seniors were still homeless Wednesday morning after flames tore through the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in the early hours of Tuesday.
Over 100 firefighters from communities across the tri-state area responded to help battle the seemingly uncontrollable 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, and setting the scene for the firefighter to go missing while trying to help residents escape.
In addition to the resident who died at a local hospital, 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 destructive fire. Those interested in helping can drop off these items at any of the locations listed in a graphic tweeted by New York Assemblyman Mike Lawler.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect where the investigation stood as of 11 a.m. Wednesday. Despite at least one local official seeming to confirm the body found belonged to the missing firefighter, officials directly involved in the investigation later said the remains had not been positively identified as the firefighter.