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20 Injured As Massive Fire Tears Through Senior Living Center Near Philadelphia

At least 20 people have been injured after a massive fire broke out at a senior assisted-living complex near Philadelphia late Thursday, forcing residents to evacuate the building into a 40-degree chill.

The blaze at Barclay Friends Senior Living Community in West Chester, about 35 miles from Philadelphia, was reported at about 11 p.m. ET. It quickly spread to multiple buildings, according to The Associated Press.

Within 30 minutes, the blaze had erupted into a five-alarm fire, Bobby Allyn of member station WHYY reported.

Local officials said 20 people had been injured and were receiving treatment at various hospitals. The local ABC affiliate reported: "Dozens of people have been displaced and could be seen lining up along Franklin Street wrapped in blankets. No word yet as to where they will be relocated."

"Many residents, bundled in blankets against the cold, were unable to walk and were pushed in wheelchairs and rolled on beds and ambulance litters to safety," The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. "Volunteers and staff members helped firefighters and police with the evacuation, working quickly to get the residents, many of them elderly, away from the raging blaze."

A videoof the facility on Friday showed the top floors of the facility's buildings gutted and still smoldering from the blaze.

Police told the Inquirer that the fire seems to have started in a unit for residents with memory problems. A spokesman for the senior living center told the AP that 132 residents were present when the fire broke out.

WHYY reports that the West Chester fire chief wouldn't comment on the extent of the injuries or whether anyone had died. He said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.