Fire at Amherst apartment complex displaces 11

Apartments at Village Park taken on Wednesday after a fire at the complex on Tuesday morning.

Apartments at Village Park taken on Wednesday after a fire at the complex on Tuesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 02-21-2024 4:39 PM

AMHERST — A Tuesday morning fire displaced 11 residents at six apartments at Village Park Apartments off East Pleasant Street.

Fire Chief Tim Nelson said firefighters were called to the 497 East Pleasant St. location at 11:26 a.m. for a report of a fire in the wall of a second-floor bathroom. With the fire showing from the rear of the building when they got there, firefighters began an attack, he said.

“One of the fortunate things is it found a way out through the soffit,” Nelson said.

This natural chimney prevented more damage, allowing firefighters to cut holes in the roof at either end to make sure that the blaze didn’t extend the length of the attic. While there was water damage and pulled-down ceilings, Nelson said the building is still standing.

“Our folks did an exemplary job getting in their quickly and getting water on the fire,” Nelson said. “It could have been a lot worse.”

The residents had all made it out safely when firefighters got there, but two cats had to be rescued. No tenants, firefighters or animals were injured, but Fire Department officials said the homes were temporarily uninhabitable.

The American Red Cross and property management is assisting in meeting the needs of tenants, though there is no certainty on when they might return.

“It’s going to be a while with the damage,” Nelsons aid.

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Assistance on scene was provided by Northampton, Hadley, Easthampton and Pelham fire departments, along with South County EMS and South Hadley District 2.

A cause for the fire is being investigated.

This is the second fire this month in the attic space, following one in a rental home on Curtis Place on the evening of Feb. 12. But unlike that, where the fire started near a bathroom ceiling fan, Nelson said the Village Park homes don’t have ceiling fans in their bathrooms.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.