More than 50 Westfield seniors still displaced following fire - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

More than 50 Westfield seniors still displaced following fire

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More than 50 seniors in Westfield were displaced after a fire Monday night. Tuesday residents returned to gather some belongings and many turned to others including the Red Cross for assistance.

The state fire marshal's office tells CBS 3 that no residents in the part of the building that was damaged by the fire will be allowed back in Tuesday night.

Officials also say that they are waiting to hear back from the city's electrical inspector. The hope is to get power turned back on Wednesday and to allow some residents back in then.

"We were pounding on the doors the best we could and yelling," said apartment resident Pat Guerin. "And we were walking covering our faces because the smoke was that thick."

Guerin is one of the lucky ones. She lives on the side of the Washington House Apartments that was not damaged in Monday night's fire. And, she, like many other residents, tried her best to help out and make sure everyone got out safely.

The fire started on the third floor of the Westfield elderly housing complex around 10 p.m. Monday. Three people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation are expected to be OK.

Tuesday, the half of the building that was damaged in the fire was closed off. However, residents were able to go up to their apartments to get some of their belongings.

Officials said more than 50 apartments were affected and around 20 suffered serious damage.

"Whatever I own is in that building in that apartment," said apartment resident Bruce Hadley.

The Red Cross set up a shelter at a nearby church for those residents without a place to go.

"The bus came and brought us down here," Hadley said. "Thank God. There was nowhere else to stay but here."

And some residents whose apartments weren't damaged chose to help out their neighbors. In fact, one man tells CBS 3 he took in two women so they wouldn't have to go to the shelter.

"I told them they could have the bed and I took the couch," said Robert Lees, an apartment resident.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Officials estimate there is around $800,000 in damage. 

The Red Cross will continue to provide shelter to residents in need Tuesday night at the Central Baptist Church on Elm Street.

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