The firefighter was identified at a morning news conference as Jared Lloyd, but officials are awaiting confirmation from the medical examiner's office.
"His loss is devastating," Rockland County Executive Ed Day said. "His loss and his heroism will never be forgotten."
At age 35, Lloyd had served the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department for 15 years. His day job was with the cable company Altice, which put out a statement saying how much he'll be missed.
"It's going to be a tremendous loss, and it's going to take a long time to sort through this," Rockland County Fire Coordinator Chris Kear said.
Eyewitness News also spoke with his father, a former member of the NYPD who lives in Queens. He requested privacy, but he said Lloyd was an only child who also leaves behind two young children of his own, one of whom had a birthday Wednesday.
Dozens of first responders came together in Pearl River, New York, for a drive-by celebration for Lloyd's son. A GoFundMe has also been started for Lloyd and his family.
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The flames broke out inside the Evergreen Court For Adults on Lafayette Street just after 1 a.m. Tuesday, and a portion of the building collapsed as firefighters battled the blaze.
Lloyd rushed into the burning building to rescue residents, and officials believe he became disoriented and could not find his way out. He was one of the first on the scene and transmitted a mayday, but other firefighters were unable to rescue him.
Between 20 and 25 residents were rescued by firefighters from what was described as a chaotic scene.
More than a dozen were taken to area hospitals for treatment, and one resident was later pronounced dead.
Officials did not release further information about that victim, a man. Two other firefighters were injured.
It took more than six hours to get the fire under control, and firefighters spent the day battling "a ton of hot spots" and struggled with water supply problems.
The facility, which offers assisted living, nursing home facilities, and continuing care for older adults, is a total loss.
Denise Kerr, director of the Evergreen Court Home for Adults, released the following statement Tuesday:
"This is an unspeakable tragedy at Evergreen Court Home and our hearts and prayers go out to all individuals and families who have been impacted. We join the community in mourning the loss of our resident who passed away and pray for the safety of the missing firefighter. We are fully cooperating with all state and local authorities in the investigation of this fire and are conducting our own internal investigation as well. Our staff was truly heroic in evacuating residents who were inside the building as the fire spread, and we are forever grateful to the first responders whose actions undoubtedly saved lives. All 112 residents at Evergreen Court Home are accounted for and have been placed in a new home. We are currently in the process of contacting their families. Anyone who wishes to reach us to inquire about a family member can call 973-378-1997 or email firstname.lastname@example.org."
The search through the rubble continues for evidence that can determine what caused the fire.
"Piece by piece, it's very meticulous," Kear said. "And you hope that you find evidence that was left over because there was such significant damage."
So far, they have not determined where the fire started and described past building violations as minor and rectified for subsequent inspections.
Spring Valley police are asking anyone with photos or videos of the fire to submit them at email@example.com.
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