Community coming together to help victims of Holyoke fire

Fire on 551 S Bridge street
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 10:28 PM EDT
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HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - An early morning fire tore through a Holyoke apartment building and left over 20 people without a place to stay.

On Friday, we spoke with one woman from Providence Ministries, who was there on the scene as soon as the fire broke out. Now, she said efforts are underway to help the people who lost everything.

“Total chaos. It was the building, went up very quickly very fast. Firefighters were scrambling, families were distraught because they had some animals inside the building. It was just a horrible morning,” said Brenda Lamagdeleine, manager of Margaret’s Pantry and Providence Ministries.

Lamagdeleine told Western Mass News the group has a fire unit and responds to all fires in the city including this massive fire that tore through a residential building on South Bridge Street on Friday.

Holyoke fire investigators told us about 25 people are now without a home and Lamagdeleine said her group has been helping those people who lost everything.

“We brought them over to Kate’s Kitchen. We made them breakfast this morning. We took care of the families who had no clothes and diapers and food. We did all that and supporting them with everything,” Lamagdeleine added.

Lamagdeline also told us they are working to identify a man who was walking on the street and took this heroic action.

“A gentleman ran into the building, woke up people in the smoke, and they just got out. There’s no fire alarms in the building, nothing. There was no warning whatsoever except for black smoke,” Lamagdeleine explained.

All people displaced are being assisted by the Red Cross and the building’s landlord is also helping.

“The landlord is taking responsibility and is putting them up in a hotel until I believe Tuesday, but after Tuesday’s, it’s like you know what do you do?” Lamagdeleine noted.

Donations such as clothing and gift cards for the families are being accepted at Providence Ministries and Lamagdeleine shared this message.

“Some pets were lost. Say some prayers for those families. They are pretty devastated, and the best thing is everyone got out safely. Things can be replaced. Human beings can’t be,” Lamagdeleine said.

Holyoke officials noted Friday that Providence Ministries, Enlace de Familias, and Nueva Esperanza are accepting supply and monetary donations to those impacted by the fire. They noted that there is an urgent need for:

  • Baby formula, particularly blue Similac and Advance Similac Formula
  • Baby bottles
  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Toothpaste
  • Toothbrushes
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Hairbrushes
  • Hair ties
  • Deodorant
  • Women’s summer shoes (size 5) and sandals (size 8)
  • Men’s and women’s underwear (S, M, L and XL)
  • Tylenol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Aleve
  • Cell phone charge cables
  • Batteries

Those wishing to donate can contact:

  • Ward 1 City Councilor Jenny Rivera at Enlace de Familias, 299 Main Street: 413-437-3210
  • Frank Martinez, Enlace de Familias Director: 413-313-8788
  • Nueva Esperanza, 401 Main Street: 413-437-7666
  • Providence Ministries, 51 Hamilton Street: 413-536-9109

The above organizations will also accept monetary contributions as well as clothing, bedding and baby needs, but not furniture, bedroom sets or the like.

Families impacted by the fire, who may also participate in WIC and lost food in the fire or who purchase baby formula using their WIC benefits, should contact their local WIC office.

To speak to someone about what other urgent items are needed, contact Jennifer Gonzalez at Holyoke Public Schools: 413-650-2750.

We’re told there are concerns the building is in danger of collapse due to the extent of damage.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.