CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Firefighters in Chicopee worked through the afternoon to put out a fire at 53 Lemuel Avenue, a unit of a multi-family home home near the downtown area. Firefighters received a call that the building was on fire at around 2:30 p.m.
Michael Piorkowski, a resident of the building, told 22News, “I went out to throw out the trash and I looked up at the roof and I could see that there was smoke from up there. So I knocked on everyone’s door to get them out, telling them ‘We have a fire’. I tried to go upstairs to see where it had started but the heat was pushing me back.”
Ebony Shaughnessy, a former volunteer fire fighter, scrambled to get her 6 children out of the building.
“It’s kind of crazy,” said Shaughnessy, “I just wanted to make sure everyone was out. I was yelling for everyone to get out and get away from the house, and at the same time, I wanted to put it out.”
According to Deputy Chief Joseph Crevier, the fire was accidental. It started in the 2nd floor of apartment 53 from an exhaust fan in the bathroom. As a result of the fire, the roof of the 2 right units collapsed.
Chicopee Police Officer Mike Wilk told 22News, everyone was able to safely get out of the building on Lemuel Avenue, but six families are unable to return home. They will receive assistance from the emergency management department.
Firefighters were able to rescue a cat from the fire, and the animal has been reunited with its family.
The intense flames could be seen coming out of the building’s roof, and smoke was visible from Interstate 91 and Interstate 391 at around 2:30 P.M.
Piorkowski says he’s worried about what comes next. “I’ve been here for 15 years, so it’s kind of devastating right now. I’m just devastated. Now we don’t know where to live.”
Other families told 22News off camera they’re worried about giving their children a place to sleep, going to work without proper clothes, and getting back their belongings.
Deputy Crevier said the fire caused water damage in the 2 middle units. Firefighters cut electricity to the building to prevent any further damage.
Due to the firefighting effort, drivers are being told to avoid Lemuel Avenue, Stearns Terrace, and Highland Avenue.