Deadly Amherst apartment fire still a mystery

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – State and local fire investigators have been unable to determine the cause of a fire that killed a UMass student at his Amherst apartment more than a year ago.

State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan and Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson announced Friday that the cause of the January 2013 fire at the Rolling Green apartments will remain officially undetermined.

Twenty-one year-old James Hoffman of Stoughton died in the fire, which officials say started in front of his bedroom closet in the early morning hours of January 21, 2013.

Hoffman was initially rescued from the home by his roommate, but died after he went back inside, the Fire Marshal’s office says.

Investigators checked the building’s electrical system, but that was ruled out as a cause. They also checked the victim’s personal electronic equipment to see whether those might have caused the fire, but this did not bring them any additional evidence.

The fire had burned a hole through the floor in front of the closet, and no heat source could be found.

More than 30 people were forced from their apartments in the fire, 22 of them were UMass students.

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