1 year later: Spring Valley adult home fire sparks calls for change
Wednesday marks one year since an early morning fire tore through the Evergreen Court Home for Adults in Spring Valley – taking the life of a 79-year-old resident Oliver Hueston and 35-year-old Jared Lloyd, a volunteer firefighter and father of two.
Since that day, the Spring Valley Building Department has been taken over by Rockland County as per a state order. There have also been calls for the Public Service Commission to investigate reports of low water pressure in the area that impacted firefighters’ efforts.
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski says he spoke with the commission on Monday. He indicated that their investigation should be wrapping up soon.
“There was a delay because of the criminal investigation,” he said. “Certain material that they needed to access in order to complete their investigation was in the hands of law enforcement."
The Evergreen facility released a statement Tuesday, saying in part that it expressed “deep sorrow for the loss of life" that occurred that day, and "supports the added focus on fire safety and proper water pressure" in the village.
It also said the building was "well-kept in terms of structural safety."
While the fire's official cause has yet to be released, News 12 has reported that it’s believed the building’s alarms to county dispatch were put "on hold" for a koshering process. Two rabbis and two former Spring Valley village building inspectors are facing charges.
Two facility employees had their cases recently "resolved," according to the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office.
An attorney for Denise Kerr, the facility’s director, issued a statement:
“Denise Kerr is very pleased that her case was dismissed; we thank the DA’s office for examining the facts and the evidence and coming to the right result. Ms. Kerr has served vulnerable people for her entire career and has done so with outstanding care and compassion. She is proud to have her good name cleared.”
Bill Madden, the spokesperson for VEOLIA (formerly Suez Water) issued a statement::
"Our water system operated properly, and the company found no inadequacies related to water supply or water pressure. We will continue to work with the authorities until this investigation is closed."