36 families need shelter after apartment fire

AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Dozen of families are homeless after a 3-story apartment fire in Amherst on Saturday night. 22News spoke with residents who now have no place to stay.

That smell of smoke was everywhere. A fire began shortly after 5:00 Saturday evening at the Southpoint Apartments in Amherst and burned for 3 hours, smoke pouring out of the windows. This was a 4 alarm fire, calling on other neighboring departments for help.

The Amherst Fire Department found flames and smoke coming from apartment 97 in the back of this building, and as a result, 36 families have been forced out of their homes. They’ve slowly been able to go back inside and gather a few of their belongings. One resident told 22News she was in the building during the fire, and was told by police to evacuate immediately. She stunned watching the fire take over her building.

“I felt rather detached, like you couldn’t believe it was actually happening even as you were just watching it happen. You could actually see smoke coming from the top of the building,” said Deanna Calkins.

Deanna’s girlfriend Rebecca King was at work during the fire. They’ve lost their food and electronics from water damage and smoke, but Rebecca feels she’s lost a lot more than her belongings.

“It’s a bizarre feeling because this is the first place that I’ve really felt at home ever, so it’s really upsetting to see it burn,” said King.

Other neighboring Southpoint residents were lucky that their homes weren’t threatened by the fire. One woman has opened her door to let Deanna and Rebecca stay with her.

“If it was me, and if I were in that situation, I would’ve wanted someone to help me out. and here we’re just like family,” said Stephanie Coan.

The Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross is helping other families find temporary shelter and give them the resources they need until they can go back home.

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