Victim's family speaks out after West Chester senior home fire

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- The family of a victim is coming forward for the first time as they search for justice for their loved one following a deadly fire at a senior living center in West Chester.

The family has not filed a lawsuit. Right now, they have hired lawyers to find answers.

"Her family was the focus of her life, she loved babies and she loved to laugh," said Mary Dimaio.

She is talking about her 85 year old mother, Theresa Malloy, who is one of four people who died November 16th when a fire ravaged the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community.

Malloy's three children had just moved their mom in four weeks prior as she began to suffer memory problems.

On Wednesday, they described the harrowing search for her the night of the fire.

"It's nothing compared to the panic she felt in the middle of the night, dark, alone, by herself," Dimaio said.

Seated with their legal team, the children and their attorneys looked at photos taken Wednesday from the site. The ATF is still conducting their investigation, but believe it started outside the building, near a covered patio.

Experts hired by their lawyers did a "look only" site inspection on Wednesday and found areas where they believe the ATF did a reconstruction.

Speculating what investigators may have discovered, attorney Andrew Duffy said, "The ATF was at least looking at the possibility that somebody was sitting in this chair and somebody discarded something, maybe a cigarette, next to this trash can."

Lawyer Robert Mongeluzzi says Barclay Friends have been cooperative but their major question revolves around a valve that operates the sprinkler system and whether it was working.

"Fire safety has three prongs. Number one is preventing fires from starting in the first place - that includes no smoking policies and enforcement of it," Mongeluzzi said. "Secondly is fire suppression systems, such as sprinklers, which extinguishes a fire. And thirdly is evacuation."

Mongeluzzi says they will interview eyewitnesses and also first responders from that night.

Action News spoke to the ATF and they say at this point they still haven't determined how the blaze began.


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