Amherst residents deal with four-alarm fire aftermath - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Amherst residents deal with four-alarm fire aftermath

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Just before 5 p.m. on Saturday, fire crews began responding to the Southpoint apartment complex on East Hadley Road, where they saw heavy smoke and fire coming from the third floor of building 97 in the complex.

When it was all said and done, officials said 36 families were displaced by the fire.

"Our apartment downstairs is destroyed," said David Jardine, who has lived with his wife in building 97 for the past two years.

Saturday, Jardine heard some commotion going on outside of his building.

After assessing the situation, he made a quick decision.

"I went back in the house and got my wife," said Jardine. "I told my wife, 'Let's get out of here'. The fire alarm was going to go off, and the building is on fire."

Fire officials told CBS 3 that it took nearly three hours to get the fire under control, with fourteen towns contributing to the effort.

Jardine returned to his apartment this morning.

"We walked in there, and the ceilings are all caved in," Jardine stated. "Water is running down from the ceilings and stuff like that."

Early Sunday morning, the Pioneer Valley chapter of the American Red Cross set up a station at Southpoint to assist residents.

It was the first emergency situation for the chapter's new executive director, Kim Goulette, and she was impressed with her staff.

"They're helping the clients walk through the process to recovery, and that's not so easy, especially when I've been sitting with a family and the tears keep flowing," said Goulette. "It's very, very challenging."

Goulette said it is a team effort to help the close to 100 people who were affected by Saturday's fire.

"Even the University of Massachusetts, they're here helping the students that are on board," said Goulette. "The management company is working to find additional housing, and the Red Cross is finding shelter, food and assistance just to help get people through this."

As for Jardine, he awaits word from his insurance company and will make use of the Red Cross for the time being.

"I just hope and pray for everybody," said Jardine. "I hope everybody will be able to get a new place to stay and get help when they're supposed to."

Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson said that the fire is not considered suspicious.

He said crews will be head back in Monday morning as they continue to investigate the cause.

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