Tragic Fire at Barclay Friends

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated November 23, 2017

What happened?

Late in the evening of November 16th, a fast-moving fire broke out at Barclay Friends. The response from the entire Borough of West Chester and all responders from the region was incredible, and we greatly appreciate the outpouring of support from our neighbors.

Were any residents and staff injured?

We are deeply saddened that four Barclay Friends residents, one couple and two single residents, perished in the fire. Barclay Friends leadership and staff have met personally with the three families most suffering from this horrific loss. We will continue to stay in close touch with them and provide as much support as possible as they deal with this unimaginable tragedy.

In all, 152 residents and staff were in the building at the time of the fire, and 133 residents and 15 staff were successfully evacuated. There were 27 residents taken to area hospitals for treatment, many of whom since have been released.

What caused the fire?

We are working closely with federal, state and local authorities as they investigate the cause of this tragedy. We are eager for answers, but at this time, it would be inappropriate to speculate on the potential cause of the fire. We remain focused on our residents, families and staff and their wellbeing.

Where are residents now?

Staff and emergency personnel worked quickly to get residents away from the fire and to safety by transferring them to hospitals, triage centers or other long-term care communities based on their individual needs. Several resident families picked up their loved ones during this time, as well. We are working with each resident and family to determine the best course of action and next steps. We are deeply grateful to those organizations and senior living communities for graciously assisting our residents in our time of need.

If a family member of a resident has questions, please contact Hannah Roberts at

What can I do to help those who have been displaced?

We have been overwhelmed by donations from the West Chester and surrounding communities. If you want to help, please visit for information regarding needed items and how you can donate. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support from our neighbors and friends.

How will the employees of Barclay Friends be affected by this situation?

We met with the Barclay Friends staff to support each other and to share the latest information. We vow to continue to keep them updated as this situation develops. Additionally, we have made counseling services available to our staff if they need those resources. Currently, many staff members have been assigned to continue to care for residents in their current locations and others are helping families directly.

Can families access Barclay Friends to gather belongings of their loved ones? When will residents be able to return to the parts of the building not impacted by the fire?

Regrettably, the entire Barclay Friends campus remains inaccessible. We are working closely with the authorities as they investigate to determine when it may be safe to return to the facility. Please do not attempt to gain access to Barclay Friends at this time. We will keep families updated as we learn more.

Will Barclay Friends rebuild the areas that were ravaged by the fire?

Right now, our focus remains on caring for the residents and families throughout this devastating time. In the days and weeks that follow, we will begin to determine our next steps in supporting the long-term needs of our community.

When will more information be available?

We will do our best in the coming days to keep our community updated as the situation unfolds. We appreciate your patience as we continue to keep our residents and their needs paramount.