Relief efforts underway to help Westfield fire victims - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Relief efforts underway to help Westfield fire victims

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An organized relief effort is underway for the more than 50 people who lost their homes in an apartment building fire in Westfield on Sunday.

The city is planning a one-stop process for helping those who lost everything.

"It's a tight built community down there and no reported injuries.  It was a catastrophe that could have been very much worse," said Westfield Mayor Brian Sullivan.

On Sunday, the lives of some residents in the Powdermill Apartment complex in Westfield changed forever when a fire, sparked by a cigarette, turned their apartment building into char. 

Jim Wiggs, the director of the city's emergency management agency, said that he's never seen anything like it while in the job. 

"Not during my ten years here in Westfield," Wiggs noted.

Wiggs was playing golf in Southwick when the calls came in.

"I did pause for a moment and say there's something going on, because I don't see any smoke nearby," Wiggs explained.

Over 50 people were displaced and while each of them have a roof over their heads five days later, Sullivan told Western Mass News that he's looking for a more permanent solution.

"People just need to know what to do next," Sullivan noted.

On Thursday, that solution could be revealed when city and state agencies hold an information session for those who lost everything.

"We need paperwork and we need place families in housing.  There's a long process that goes into this," Sullivan.

Wiggs added, "Transitional assistance, we have housing, we have public health, we have refugee - the Department of Refugee and Immigration - for anyone who has lost their paperwork."

Ever since Sunday's fire, donations and calls for help have been coming in, but right now, the mayor said what these fire victims need is money and day-to-day things like toiletries. 

"Financial and gift cards, as opposed to clothing and furniture.  There's really no storage. So, some of that may happen later when places are rebuilt," Sullivan said.

While there's no way to replace exactly what was lost, the mayor said that Thursday's meeting should bring some relief.

"The goal just is to make sure the transition for these people is as seamless as possible and as stress-free as possible," Sullivan said.

The information session will begin Thursday at 10 a.m. 
and for more information on how to help those impacted, visit our website at western mass news dot com. 

If you would like to those impacted by the fire, a GoFundMe page has been created.  For more information on what where to send donations and what is needed, you can contact the Westfield mayor's office at (413) 572-6201.

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