[UPDATE] Dozens Displaced in Spring Valley Apartment Fire

13 fire departments from throughout county at the scene; Red Cross assisting 37 residents at Spring Valley Village Hall. UPDATED at 5:52 p.m. with video, more pictures and details.

One building in the Raymond Castle Apartment complex at 500 E. Funston Street in Spring Valley was on fire this morning, with members of 13 fire departments from throughout Rockland County at the scene.

No injuries have been reported and the cause of the blaze is unknown at this time. The American Red Cross arrived to help at least 35 people displaced by the fire that directly affected 15 apartments.

Altes Durosier, a resident of the complex, said everyone was evacuated.

"I have a two-year-old son so I need to get diapers and other things from the apartment but no one is allowed in," he said. "Half of the apartment (residents) will get to go back in in a few hours and the other half will have to wait longer until the smoke is gone. I have a kid I don't know (what I'm going to do for the the next few hours). I was at work when this happened."

The fire was reported around 10:35 a.m. at the complex between Fairview Ave and John St.  The fire started in an occupied apartment of the two-story brick apartment complex. Soon after 1 p.m., it had been extinguished. There was still a considerable amount of smoke lingering from the fire and parts of the roof were being removed. it Most of the damaged apartments appeared to be on the upper level.

A perimeter area had been set up to keep spectators at a safe distance.

Fire officials reported that several firefighters suffered heat exhaustion and one fell inside the building but they were treated at the scene. An elderly woman from a nearby building complained of chest pains and was taken to the hospital. members of a local organization, Misaskim, which responds to crisis situations, brought jugs of water for the firefighters, who also had bottled water and cold cloths available. 

Between 100 and 125 firefighters were at the scene. Spring Valley got the call at 10:38 a.m. Initially, Hillcrest, Monsey, Nanuet and Tallman were brought in.

"In this kind of heat, we have to rotate firefighters, much more frequently," said Gordon Wren, Rockland County's fire coordinator. "That's one reason we needed all the extra manpower.

"We had them waiting at the command center and then rotated them in. Then we tried to bring more people to the command center."

After setting up a command center at the International Food Mart on Route 59, firefighters from Nyack, New City, Tappan, Orangeburg and Stony Point were called in. All had firefighters working on the building except Tappan, which stood by at the command center in case there were any other calls in Spring Valley. 

At one point or another, the Spring Valley, New City, Suffern, Tappan, Orangeburg, Hillcrest, Nanuet, Pearl River, Congers, Stony Point, Nyack, Tallaman and Monsey fire departments all responded.  

"Our volunteers did a great job in cutting off the fire," Wren said. "When they frist showed up, they had to decide to try and manage the fire or go through the apartments and search for people. So they went looking for anyone inside, and thankfully the other departments showed up to help get things under control." 

One of the Tappan firefighters said he saw smoke from as far away as Bardonia.

A has been established at Spring Valley Village Hall to help residents and assess their needs. The Red Cross initially reported 37 residents are being assisted, but expected many more with an estimated 60 units in the building. Check back with Patch for details on how you can help. 

Editor's Note: Adam Littman and Kim Tran contributed to this report. 

Craig S. July 12, 2012 at 03:20 AM
KAY - Do you live in that building? Last time I checked, lots of people and "piles of junk" dont magically cause fire. Why make such an ignorant comment. Do you really expect the detectives and fire inspectors to go thru an entire charred building and determine the cause in just a matter of hours? They barely had the fire our just a few hours before your comment was posted!!
Anthony July 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
In response to Mr. Leiner, The dedication and service are not disappearing. The manpower numbers are, especially during daytime fires such as this. Almost all Rockland County fire departments suffer from low manpower numbers during the daytime hours. This is through no fault of their own. The days of working (and in some cases, living, in the towns you volunteer in) are over. Most people are working long hours, multiple jobs, and then try to balance that with a family life...add in the constant training....it is becoming harder and harder to maintain a true "all volunteer" fire service in Rockland. We WILL be paid at some point in the future... It is becoming more and more evident as the years pass, so for all you "concerned taxpayers" that whine about the local salaries of public employees...here's your chance to step up and hopefully avoid adding yet another layer of expenses to our governments... Most fire tax rates in Rockland are very low. That will change if we all allow the volunteer system to die. I have spent far too many years doing what I love to sit idly by and watch it wither on the vine, and that is the reason for my post today. Yes, some here will remind everyone for the 1000th time that we get "pensions", but please know that the pension system we have in place, while very welcome, does not truly attract or retain people in the service.
Anthony July 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM
There are tremendously talented and dedicated people in the RC fire service that are saddened by the decline of new people signing up AND remaining in a department. PLEASE...if you have any interest in joining your local department, make the effort to look into it. You will be rewarded handsomely by making new friends, giving back to your community, and doing something (especially for the younger generation) that will get you away from your iPhones, gaming systems and computers. Here's to the Brothers and Sisters of ALL the emergency services that responded to the fire yesterday. Great work.....
Phil Costa July 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM
So true! I have been a volly for over 40 years. I am always amazed how the Brothers (and Sisters!) answer the call to duty 24/7/365. The work is hard, the training rigorous, and the hours can be very long under lousy conditions. But like anything in this world, hard work brings good results! It's the greatest job on earth. Please volunteer with your local Departments. Help is always welcome!
nyackagain July 12, 2012 at 07:01 PM
And for those who do not want to fight fires the local Ambulance corps are always looking for volunteers...Anthony made a great point about the positive experience you will receive.


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