AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson said the cause of the fire was a stove left on and unattended on the third floor. There was a pan, believed to be made of aluminum, on the electric stove. It eventually caught fire and helped the flames spread.
22News spoke with residents who returned Monday to look at the damage in their homes at Southpoint Apartments.
“We’re just trying to salvage what we can to take back with us,” said Colleen Jardine, who lived on the first floor of building 97. Her home had mainly smoke and water damage.
Two days after this fire forced 36 families to find other places to live, they were able to go into their damaged apartments and save what they could. 22News got to go inside that building and look at the apartment where the fire started on the third floor in 97G.
Chief Nelson told 22News he hopes this serves as a lesson to never leave your stove on unattended, whether you’re home, or not. He said the fire burned up through the roof and across the third floor, but the first and second floor had smoke and water damage.
They shut the electric off to building 97 and adjacent buildings. That’s what led to much damage for Jardine. “We got a big freezer in there with food and I just bought it. With electricity off, I’m not taking a chance in eating any of it so we lost all the food,” Jardine said.
Deanna Calkins lived with her girlfriend in an adjacent building. They are expected to be able to return home soon because the fire did not spread there.
“I think that everyone’s been really helpful. Everyone’s been really helpful and cooperative and as far as I know there haven’t been any fusses.”
Everyone was able to get out of the burning building safely. Residents got help from the Pioneer Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. Some said they’re thinking about getting renters insurance for the future.