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Banging alerts tenants to deadly fire at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments

  • Don Cawrse, left, Ellen Patashnick and Jane Robinson were among the volunteers from the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts who helped process assistance for about 30 people displaced by an early morning fire that killed one man at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Don Cawrse, left, Ellen Patashnick and Jane Robinson were among the volunteers from the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts who helped process assistance for about 30 people displaced by an early morning fire that killed one man at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments on Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Amherst firefighters allow some people to enter an apartment briefly to gather belongings Monday afternoon following an early morning fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst complex that left one dead and some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Amherst firefighters allow some people to enter an apartment briefly to gather belongings Monday afternoon following an early morning fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst complex that left one dead and some 30 people displaced.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • This is a view of the backside of three apartments in the ten-unit building at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartment complex that was damaged in an early morning fire on Monday. The apartment at right, #202, was reported by witnesses to be the source of the fire.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    This is a view of the backside of three apartments in the ten-unit building at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartment complex that was damaged in an early morning fire on Monday. The apartment at right, #202, was reported by witnesses to be the source of the fire.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Two college-aged women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Two college-aged women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Some 30 people were left homeless in the fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Some 30 people were left homeless in the fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Monday.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Two college-age women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

    Two college-age women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.

    GAZETTE FILE PHOTO Purchase photo reprints »

  • Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

    Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.
    KEVIN GUTTING Purchase photo reprints »

  • Don Cawrse, left, Ellen Patashnick and Jane Robinson were among the volunteers from the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross of Central and Western Massachusetts who helped process assistance for about 30 people displaced by an early morning fire that killed one man at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments on Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Amherst firefighters allow some people to enter an apartment briefly to gather belongings Monday afternoon following an early morning fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst complex that left one dead and some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • This is a view of the backside of three apartments in the ten-unit building at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartment complex that was damaged in an early morning fire on Monday. The apartment at right, #202, was reported by witnesses to be the source of the fire.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Two college-aged women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Some 30 people were left homeless in the fire at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Monday.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING
  • Two college-age women embrace outside the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments Jan. 21 where one man perished in an early morning fire. Some 30 people, mostly UMass students, were displaced.<br/><br/>GAZETTE FILE PHOTO
  • Two college-aged men comfort each other Monday at the Rolling Green at Amherst apartments where one man perished in an early morning fire that also left some 30 people displaced.<br/>KEVIN GUTTING

The Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner on Tuesday identified the victim as James E. Hoffman, 21, of Stoughton.

At midday Monday, the trees near the charred husk of the building were covered in ash as residents, mostly students, sought alternative housing. Fire officials said the fire destroyed five units, leaving 30 people displaced from their homes. Of the 30, 22 are students at UMass, where spring semester classes were to start today.

Dan Hewitt, 20, of Pittsfield, said he was sleeping in his apartment, which he said is adjacent to the one where the fire started. He said he woke up to the sound of pounding.

“I heard some banging on the wall, and then looked out the window and saw flames,” Hewitt said. “It was shocking — I didn’t expect to see flames at the window.”

He said smoke detectors were not triggered, but he heard someone shouting “fire” outside.

He woke up his three roommates, telling them to gather what they could and get out of the building as soon as possible. Still, they left most of their belongings, including wallets and keys, behind.

His roommate Gregg Mancari said he rushed into the freezing weather wearing only a jacket, a pair of boxers and two right-footed shoes. Later, he borrowed a pair of pants from a friend in another building at the complex.

The apartment Mancari and Hewitt shared with two friends from their hometown was severely damaged, but the four have been provided with a new unit by management of the complex. They also received help from the Red Cross for food, clothing and bedding.

“The Red Cross has been great, they responded very quickly,” Hewitt said. “It’s kind of surreal at this point, but they’re all just material things. What’s important is that we’re all here.”

Another displaced resident of the building, Chris Horte, a UMass senior, said he was alerted to the fire by neighbors.

“People were banging on the door at 4:30 in the morning and yelling ‘fire’,” he said.

His apartment suffered less damage than some of the others, but still he and his roommates were told that they would be placed in other units or provided with hotel rooms. Until then, they planned to seek refuge with friends.

“I’m at a loss for words. I’m sorry for anyone who had to go through worse than we did,” Horte said.

The Red Cross was at the scene Monday for much of the day offering money for groceries, clothing and other assistance for those affected by the fire. Red Cross officials also provided breakfast and lunch for victims and emergency personnel.

According to Mary Nathan, regional response manager, the Red Cross will stay in touch to offer guidance and assistance to anyone who needs it.

Related

Student victim of Amherst fire identified as James Hoffman

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

AMHERST — A University of Massachusetts student died and an estimated 30 people were left homeless after a fire damaged a 10-unit building at Rolling Green at Amherst apartments early Monday morning, according to Amherst fire officials. The UMass student was found dead in one of the units, said Amherst Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren. The Massachusetts Office of the …

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