Healing process begins for victims of Holyoke fire

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The healing process has begun for nearly 50 Holyoke residents who lost their homes in a massive fire on Sunday.

22News spoke to Joana Iyala, who choked back tears as she described everything, and everyone she lost less than 24-hours earlier. “A lot of friends, now they’re dead. They’re neighbors, they’re family. Last night we tried to sleep and we couldn’t. I just kept hearing everybody screaming, “fire, fire.” They were jumping, hanging from the windows.” she said.

Iyala was one of at least 49 people who are now homeless after her apartment building on North East Street in Holyoke went up in flames New Year’s Day.

City leaders and firefighters held a news conference Monday to give an update on the investigation into the fire that killed two people, and injured several others.

Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse told 22News the community has rallied behind all of the victims. “As Holyoke does, we come together in times of need. Hundreds of Holyoke residents, and residents across western Mass. came to Holyoke to drop off clothing, and food, and toiletries,” he said.

At least 15 of the families have been placed in vacant apartments, the others are in hotels for the time being.

As for the victims, Iyala said they’ll now begin rebuilding their lives one step at a time. “We try, we try to start again,” she said.

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