One Person Killed in Amherst Fatal Fire
State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan and Amherst Assistant Fire Chief Lindsay Stromgren confirmed that an early morning fire at 422 Belchertown Road has taken the life of one person. All of the approximately 30 occupants of the 10-unit condominium building are displaced and are being assisted by the American Red Cross. Approximately 20 of the residents were area students living in off-campus housing; the University of Massachusetts is working with the property management company to find housing for all of their students.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will officially identify the victim.
The fire is being jointly investigated by State Police assigned to Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan’s Office and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal, members of the Amherst Fire Department and officers from the Amherst Police Department. Additional assistance is coming from Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services and the Code Compliance Unit of the State Fire Marshal’s Office.
The fire was initially reported via 911 to the Amherst Communications Center at 4:43 am. The first engine company arrived approximately seven minutes later and found heavy fire coming out of some second floor windows and the attic. “After an initial search of the fire apartment crews were ordered to evacuate the building due to heavy fire and a partial collapse of the roof,” Stromgren said. Two ladder trucks were used to knock down the majority of the fire from the outside before crews were able to reenter the building at which time the victim was located on the second floor of the apartment where the fire originated.
The Amherst Fire Department had approximately thirty firefighters on scene. A third alarm was sounded which summoned additional fire department resources from Belchertown, Hadley, Leverett, Northampton, South Hadley and Sunderland. A command vehicle and firefighter rehabilitation truck from the state Department of Fire Services also responded, along with representatives from the Mass. Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).