Reading ATF agents helping at inferno scene in West Chester

Some people still unaccounted for, officials say

WEST CHESTER, Pa. - ATF agents from the bureau's Reading office are helping investigators comb for clues in a massive fire that tore through a senior living facility in Chester County late Thursday night.

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley said Friday that some people are still missing after the fire, which broke out at the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community shortly before 11 p.m. and injured more than a dozen of the 132 residents inside.

Officials said it's unclear how many people are unaccounted for in blaze.

"I can't give you a number yet," said Charlene Hennesey, public information officer for the ATF.

There have been no confirmed fatalities.

It took the manpower of 400 first responders to get the fire under control around 1:30 a.m., and firefighters were still dousing smoldering hotspots into Friday afternoon.

Investigators, including ATF agents from Reading, are now tasked with figuring out what sparked the fire.

"We've responded with a number of agents, about 25 agents from the Philadelphia and Reading areas, to come and work with our partners here at the county," said Don Robinson, special agent in charge for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

An emergency management official said that much of the scene is too unstable for investigators to enter.

Many neighbors helped with the rescue effort, wrapping the elderly in blankets and carrying them to ambulances in makeshift gurneys.

"I'm very proud of how our community has come together during this tragedy," Norley said.

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