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Update Fatal Fire Amherst Massachusetts

[The Center News Reporter]  [January 23, 2013 2:27 pm ]  [Views 772]


UPDATE: Fatal Fire, Amherst, Massachusetts

Newburyport, Massachusetts – January 23, 2012.

A University of Massachusetts student lost his life in a fire at the Rolling Green apartment complex.  The fire also left 32 homeless early Monday morning.  According to Assistant Chief Lindsay Stromgren, firefighters found the man inside one of the units.  On January 23, 2013, Enku Gelaye, the Associate Vice Chancellor & Dean of Students at UMass Amherst, released an e-mail to the campus community identifying the student.  James “Jake” Hoffman, a 21 year old student, was identified by the Massachusetts State Medical Examiner’s office as the departed, according to Gelaye. 

Hofmann was nearing the completion of his tenure at the University, being in the last year of his Hospitality and Tourism Management program.  Religious and psychological services have been made available to help campus community members with the grieving process.  Bed spaces have been made available for those where were displaced by the fire and the University is actively working with the Red Cross.  Because of the heavy damage to the buildings, fire investigators may never know the true cause of this blaze; however, they do not suspect foul play.  Nevertheless, in the wake of this tragedy, the Center for Campus Fire Safety would like to express its deepest condolences to the Hoffman family and to the UMass campus community. 

Background information on this fire:

The fire, reported shortly before 5 a.m., heavily damaged a number of units at the complex, which is located off Route 9 at 1 Rolling Green Drive.  Stromgren said 5 units of the 10-unit building were completely gutted. The roofs to several units, all facing the stretch of Route 9 also known as Belchertown Road, were all but destroyed. 

Multiple agencies were summoned to the scene. The Northampton, Hadley, South Hadley, Leverett, and Belchertown fire departments provided mutual aide. Officials from the state Office of Fire Services, including State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan, were among the officials at the scene investigating the blaze. 

Residents reported hearing banging on the door, with someone yelling “fire, fire.” This happened shortly before 5AM, said Pat Cooke, mother of one of the students who escaped injury. 

Another student reported awaking to someone knocking on his door to warn of the fire. He also heard the sound of car horns outside, but only realized he needed to evacuate when someone started yelling “fire.” 

Residents watched from the parking lot as the fire ripped through the apartment block. 

82 fatal fires have been documented that occurred on a college campus, in Greek housing or in off-campus housing within 3-miles of the campus – claiming a total of 119 victims.

  • » 69 fires have occurred in off-campus housing claiming 100 victims
  • » 7 fires have occurred in on-campus building or residence halls claiming 9 victims
  • » 6 fires have occurred in Greek housing claiming 10 victims

CCFS has been documenting specific campus related fires deaths since Year 2000.  Current and more detailed statistics, along with the definition of how we define “campus related fires” are always posted on the website, along with a host of fire safety resources and tips for fire safety professionals as well as students in both universities and off-campus housing.  One of the resources includes a daily and ongoing listing of other fire incidents in the higher education arena.  

To learn more about CCFS and its programs, visit  

For additional information:

Fire Fatality Statistics and Definition:

Continual e-news -campus fire & safety:

Campus Fire Safety Resources: 


About The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS)
The Center for Campus Fire Safety (CCFS) is a non-profit, member focused organization devoted to reducing the loss of life from fire at our nation's campuses. The mission of The Center for Campus Fire Safety is to serve as an advocate for the promotion of campus fire safety. CCFS serves as the focal point for the efforts of a number of organizations and also as a clearinghouse for information relating to campus fire safety. Visit us at for more information.

Media Contacts
The Center for Campus Fire Safety | 978.961.0410
Paul D. Martin, President,
Cathy Tabor, Director of Marketing Communications,


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