Two families homeless after fire damaged buildings near Smith College in Northampton

The Western Massachusetts Red Cross is helping them find a place to stay.

Northampton Firefighters work to control a structure fire on Round Hill Road, Friday night. (Image submitted through reportit@wwlp.com)

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Several Western Massachusetts fire departments were sending equipment and personnel, Friday night, to help Northampton firefighters put out a fire on Round Hill Road. The fire was burning out of control.

Two Northampton families were made homeless Friday night, after a fire forced them out of their homes. The Western Massachusetts Red Cross is helping them find a place to stay.

Northampton Police Sgt. Josef Barszcz told 22News the department received a call reporting the fire around 10:46 p.m. Friday, at 49 Round Hill Road, which is near Smith College.

When the officers arrived, Sgt. Barszcz said they saw flames coming out of the roof. He said the building was partially collapsed, and surrounding buildings were evacuated. By 12:30 a.m. Saturday, the fire was still burning, but not as strong. Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the buildings.

It took crews more than four hours to put the flames out. One side of the building already had tenants. Those two families had to be evacuated.

A neighbor told 22News, the building is considered the ‘Gem on the Hill.’ “I come home from the bar last night, and then the sky is orange. What the heck is going on, why is the sky orange? The condos are on fire. And sure enough,” said Matt Coffey of Northampton.

Northampton Firefighters work to control a structure fire on Round Hill Road, Friday night. (Image submitted through reportit@wwlp.com)
Northampton Firefighters work to control a structure fire on Round Hill Road, Friday night. (Image submitted through reportit@wwlp.com)

Sgt. Barszcz said the fire originally started at 49 Round Hill Road before it spread to a second building. Holyoke, Amherst, Hatfield and Easthampton police and fire departments were called in to assist.The fire was extinguished around 3:00 a.m. Saturday.

Kara Peterman, who lives in the building next door, told 22News the building on fire used to be the Clarke School for the Deaf, and was being converted into an apartment complex. No one currently lives in that building.

Northampton Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris North told 22News, it took more than 45 firefighters and about 50-thousand gallons of water to put the fire out. Norris told 22News, he hasn’t seen a fire like this in years.

The building that Peterman lives in also used to be part of the Clarke School, and was converted to apartments as well.

The property is now owned by Opal Real Estate, a company owned by Peter Pan chairman Peter Picknelly.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. 22News will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest information, on-air and online, when it becomes available.

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