Officials determine cause of fire at Westfield apartment building

(Photo Courtesy: Mark Lawrence)

Investigators have now determined what caused an apartment fire that forced dozens from their homes Sunday afternoon in Westfield.

It's believed the improper disposal of smoking materials is to blame.

People who witnessed this fire yesterday said that it was a terrifying sight. The fire department struck a third alarm before they even arrived on-scene

Right around 2 p.m. Sunday, fire engulfed a building at the Powdermill Apartments in Westfield.

Flames shot out of the back of the apartment building as seen in video captured by a Western Mass News viewer.

Neighbors jumped into action

"The flame is shooting out of the back porch...me, another gentleman came to the back porch and were banging on the doors. The fire got too big and our main concern became getting all the other residents out," said Cliff Gilkes.

According to the Westfield Fire Department, a lit cigarette put out in a dried potted plant caused all of this.

“An individual put out a cigarette in a potted plant, a plastic pot. Somehow that ignited and eventually lead to the structure fire," said Westfield Deputy Fire Chief Seth Ellis.

Those who saw it said it was intense. Mark Lawrence even hiding behind a tree from the heat while taking this video.

"The wind was tremendous and it just acted like a furnace and it just blew right through. As you can see by some of the pictures I took, it was quite intense," Lawrence added.

However, the good news is that no one was hurt. Everyone made it out okay, but the damage to the apartments is significant.

"Now, I feel a lot better knowing that no lives were taken. I feel way better now," Gilkes added.

The Red Cross, the property manager, and the Salvation Army are all helping resettle these families, which is roughly about 40 people.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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