Post Fire Chronology

January 29, 2018

Renewal is Barclay Friends’ focus, as it has been for more than two months since the tragic fire.  Today demolition of the Woolman personal care building began. We anticipate that the remnants of the building will be removed and that site work will be done over the coming days. Completion of this work will allow us to move ahead with preparations for reopening the Cotter skilled nursing building.

Many residents and families have told us how much they want to “come home” to Barclay Friends. We are engaged in a concerted effort to make that possible. A large team of architects, engineers, construction managers, skilled trades people, Barclay Friends staff and Kendal advisers are working diligently to replace equipment and rebuild utilities for Cotter so that we can reopen as soon as possible.

We are getting closer to knowing the reopening date, but there are still some unknowns—including winter weather—that could delay deliveries and construction work. While we don’t know the exact date, at this point we expect to reopen Cotter in early spring.

We are working on plans to rebuild where the Woolman building once stood, and we will share more information about our plans when finalized.

We look forward to the renewal of Cotter and to restoring the Barclay Friends community. We will provide additional updates as we reach new milestones.

January 5, 2018

The entire Barclay Friends team remains committed to our families and staff. A large team of architects, engineers, project managers, contractors and Barclay Friends staff has been working around the clock and through the holidays to plan for the reopening of Cotter as soon as is possible. The task is not a simple one, as utilities need to be relocated from the fire-damaged building to Cotter. In addition, special consideration must be made for the demolition of that damaged building. A new location for utilities is under construction in the Cotter building and new mechanical systems are currently on order.

We will continue to provide updates for family members and staff when we are able, and we will provide estimated dates for other milestones once plans become solidified.

We are eager to restore the active and vibrant Barclay Friends community.

December 22, 2017

Thank you so much to the many very generous people who donated items to benefit displaced residents of Barclay Friends. Because we quickly reached capacity, many people who collected items were unable to drop them off during the community donation drive organized by Trucks2 on November 19. We are so thankful to the leadership and volunteers of Trucks2 who have worked diligently with us over the past month to help us provide items to displaced residents and their families. Trucks2 is also committed to place the remaining donations at local shelters and charities that are in need.

We are humbled by the tremendous outpouring of kindness from the Greater West Chester community. Because of these wonderful donations, Barclay Friends is no longer in need of donated items. Please visit the United Way of Chester County website at for a list of other organizations that are able to accept donated items.

Thank you again for the compassion this community has demonstrated during this very difficult and challenging time.

December 21, 2017

We continue to grieve for the families that lost loved ones in the fire, while also working to support the residents, families and staff members of the Barclay Friends community that have been displaced.

We continue to fully cooperate with federal, state and local investigators. We recognize the ATF’s investigative process must take the time necessary to thoroughly get to the bottom of what happened on November 16. We await additional information from the ATF.

Right now, we are focused on reopening Cotter, our skilled nursing building, as we are eager to welcome many residents and their families back home as soon as possible.

Barclay Friends would like to thank West Chester University for hosting a staff gathering last week. We continue to receive wonderful support from the community, for which we are thankful. We ask that those in our community continue to keep those most affected by this tragedy in our hearts.

December 7, 2017

As we continue to keep those who lost so much in our thoughts, the Barclay Friends team has been busy working with residents, families and staff to meet individual needs and answer questions based on information that continues to unfold. Family meetings will be held next week to give family and staff an opportunity to check in with one another about how the Barclay Friends community is doing – even though they are separated physically.  There will also be time to hear about any concerns that families may have, with a goal of ensuring we can respond to new questions that arise as time goes on.  Due to limited space, outside visitors will not be able to attend and we are asking that each family send no more than two representatives to the meeting.

Demolition of the building where the fire broke out is being planned, and a team of experts is working together with state and local officials to get the Cotter building, where 24-hour nursing care is provided, reopened as quickly as possible.  We understand many residents want to come home to Cotter.   No dates are set yet, but both projects are top priorities and will move forward once plans are finalized and scheduled.

Barclay Friends staff and volunteers are preparing Secret Santa packages for each resident for the holidays.  Thanks to First Presbyterian Church of West Chester which is helping to coordinate and house the activities for this effort, and their ongoing support.

We continue to work with the investigating teams working to identify the cause of the fire.  We will continue to provide updates as we learn more.

November 29, 2017

The Barclay Friends community of residents, their families and staff has suffered a devastating loss that has affected all of us. In the aftermath of the tragic fire, our thoughts are with all of you as we try to cope with the many challenges this fire has brought us. A team of staff has reached out to each resident’s family or responsible party to help with practical details.

We know that many families have questions regarding financial matters, access to loved ones’ belongings, the cause of the fire, and the restoration of the community. Some of these questions will take time to resolve. As to other more practical questions, we are working right now to determine accurate information to share with our community. Families should expect to hear more in the coming days as we have more information to share. The primary contact for each resident will receive a personalized letter outlining details specific to his or her unique situation.

We will hold a family meeting in the near future, too, to provide an opportunity for families to directly ask question and address concerns.

We continue to support the authorities as they investigate the fire. We are also working with investigators and building experts to evaluate the condition of the campus to determine if and when we may be able to re-open our skilled-nursing facility, the Cotter Building.

In the meantime, we continue to hold everyone affected by this tragedy in our thoughts. For family members with questions, please contact Hannah Roberts, Director of Social Work, at

November 27, 2017

First Presbyterian Church of West Chester has set up a web page to help organize people from the community and staff who want to volunteer or donate in-kind items.

Click Here to Volunteer Your Time

November 23, 2017

On this day of Thanksgiving, when many families are gathering to celebrate, the Barclay Friends family mourns the losses of four individuals whose remains were found Tuesday and Wednesday at the scene of last Thursday’s fire by a team of investigators.  We continue to pray for their families, and will provide as much support as possible for them.  We also hold in our thoughts those residents, and their families, who are waking up in different surroundings today.

During this terrible time, the West Chester community continues to step forward to support displaced residents by bringing care packages to individuals, as well as offering to house family members of residents, and asking how else they can assist.   We give thanks to this community for its continued generous spirit.

November 20, 2017

Dear residents, families and staff:

Barclay Friends is devastated that four residents, one couple and two single residents remain missing and are presumed to have perished in the fire that ravaged Barclay Friends the evening of November 16. Members of the Barclay Friends team have met personally with the three families most affected by this horrific loss. We will provide as much support as possible for these families as they deal with this unimaginable tragedy.

Right now, we remain focused on caring for these families and supporting all the residents who have been upended by the fire, including the 27 who were treated at local hospitals. In addition, we are supporting staff who have deep relationships with residents and are likewise traumatized.

Now and always, the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents is our top priority. We are working closely with local partners to ensure each resident is safe and receiving the continuity of care they deserve.

We are deeply grateful to the countless fire, police, emergency personnel and neighbors who helped safely evacuate residents and staff from our facility. Our staff, all of whom have been accounted for, also took heroic actions to bring residents to safety. We thank them for their commitment to our residents.

We will continue to work with the authorities to aid in their investigation.

For family members looking for information, please contact Hannah Roberts at, or visit the Barclay Friends website, where we plan to do our best to keep our community up to date as more information becomes available.

CLICK HERE for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.